The New Pornographers commit to a fizzy pop sound, paired with their bleakest lyrics yet | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

The New Pornographers commit to a fizzy pop sound, paired with their bleakest lyrics yet 

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click to enlarge New Pornographers

New Pornographers

Courtesy Matador Records

In press materials for his band’s new album, Whiteout Conditions (Collected Works), primary New Pornographers songwriter A.C. Newman refers to the cohesive sound of the record—for the first time since this Vancouver outfit formed in 1999, he’s responsible for all the material, not just most of it. Cofounder Dan Bejar typically contributes a few tunes to each release, his post-Bowie vocal style helping to vary the overall complexion, but when it came time to make Whiteout Conditions, he temporarily stepped down, preoccupied with recording a new album with his long-running project Destroyer. Left to his own devices, Newman pushed the New Pornographers further into the fizzy electronic-­pop vibe they introduced on the 2014 album Brill Bruisers, mostly forgoing ballads in favor of hard-hitting confections loaded with sugar-rush hooks. The melodies, sung alternately by Newman and Neko Case, are as indelible as ever, and Newman’s lyrics are his darkest yet. On the title track, he confronts debilitating anxiety (“Only want to glean the purpose, only to scratch the surface, raise the plow / Suffering whiteout conditions, forget the mission, just get out somehow”), and on “High Ticket Attractions” he anticipates a further cheapening of political discourse and a deepening erosion of civility due to the Trump administration. The world he describes is pretty bleak, but his frothy melodies provide at least fleeting comfort.   v

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