As Yet Untitled

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cascadia Weekly - New Pornographers

"I'm really tired of that supergroup label,” New Pornographers frontman Carl Newman has been quoted as saying. “And I wish people would stop using it. None of us were known at all outside of Canada—I just don't think it's accurate." Indeed, the phrase “Indie Supergroup” is a bit of a misnomer when applied to most bands. Fortunately, the New Pornographers are giving the expression teeth and a ring of truth.


More after the jump.


At 10:12 AM, Blogger Tyson said...

Formed in 1997 in Vancouver, British Columbia, The New Pornographers drew members from multiple bands: Destroyer’s Dan Bejar, Immaculate Machine’s Kathryn Calder, The Evaporator’s John Collins, Limblifter’s Kurt Dahle, Fancey’s Todd Fancey, Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire’s Nora O’Connor, independent filmmaker Blaine Thurier, and solo artist Neko Case. Newman himself played in indie-rock stalwarts Superconductor and Zumpano.

The band’s first release, 2000’s “Mass Romantic,” appeared almost out of nowhere, a seeming one-off that rode a critical wave of support into semi-mainstream success. Influenced as much by riff-heavy power pop bands as 60’s singer-songwriters Brian Wilson and Burt Bacharach, The New Pornographers wrote songs that turned obscure musical theory into upbeat audience sing-alongs. As a result, the album ended up outselling the individual member’s solo efforts, prompting the band to return to the studio for a sophomore release.

Released on Matador in 2003, “Electric Version”, showcased pop gems filled with gorgeous vocal harmonies, more chord changes than you could shake a fake book at, and the sort of insanely sticky melodies that tend to worm their way out of your subconscious and into your waking thoughts. It is, obviously, a very good record.

But the band wasn’t content. Instead of resting on their glossy pop laurels, the band (minus some members who had other bands to attend to) returned from touring and went back into the studio. Utilizing several studios in Canada and the United States to cater to their members’ far-flung geography, they wrote and recorded their follow-up record. When they emerged, they brought with them “Twin Cinemas.”

Although featuring the same pop sheen as their two previous releases, “Twin Cinemas” found the band exploring a greater emotional depth than ever before. Incendiary moments were still rife, but the songs allowed them to take a slow burn to get there. It’s a far more developed, consistent, and confident album than anyone expected, and you can reasonably assume that they’re not done yet.

Unfortunately, the band often can’t perform live as they appear on record, as members—most notably Bejar, who is often credited as a “Secret Member,” and Case, who just released her third solo album—work on their individual careers. However, that should not deter you from seeing them live. Fiery and deft, the band brings every pop moment into perfect relief, encouraging euphoria and chorus sing-alongs in equal measure.

So, yes, perhaps “supergroup” is the wrong label when describing The New Pornographers. You might use “pop wunderkinds,” or “genius songwriters,” or better still: “Your new favorite band.”


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