It must be tough being a fan of The New Pornographers. Firstly, there’s the name. Seriously…would you wear a T Shirt with that name on? Your mom wouldn’t let you out of the house. Then there’s the uncertainty – with all those side projects happening almost simultaneously, will there be enough of a band on the same continent to find an afternoon to get into a studio to record anything? Then there’s the whole “eclectic” thing – will you get the guitar-driven PowerPop band, the Alt-Rock, proto-hipster band or something else? For their seventh album, “Whiteout Conditions”, the band have decided on option three.
Ever wondered what the B52s would sound like with the rhythm section from Neu! backing them up? Wonder no more.
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With the band temporarily bidding “adieu” to Dan Bejar and a permanent “so long” to drummer Kurt Dahle, the band have once again taken their sound into an interesting new place. The promo for “Whiteout Conditions” had head Pornographer, A.C. Newman stating that, “At the beginning of this record, there was some thinking that we wanted it to be like a Krautrock Fifth Dimension”. Well that’s about right. Without Dan Bejar’s rather stylised vocalising, the band have adopted an almost choral approach this time – for the most part, lead vocals are shared across two or three band members and lush harmonies fight for space with the kind of delicious boy-girl interplay you haven’t heard since “Love Shack”.
Those that have been in for the long haul with the band will recognise some of the trademarks – “High Ticket Attractions” has the kind of relentless drive that pushed previous gems like “Sing Me Spanish Techno” into the ranks of the Indie Disco Classics. There’s a lovely playful feeling to the whole album – as if the band wanted to make an 80’s sounding album, but without all the unnecessary digital nonsense that would drag the whole thing into the past. Songs like “This Is The World Of The Theater” and the title track are built on sequencer-like rhythms and all your favourite “Class of 84” synth noises, yet they sound as fresh as a daisy. If you have “Obsession” by Animotion in your guilty pleasures folder, then this might be your album of the year. Like all of their albums, you have to persevere – tracks like “Second Sleep” are what radio deejays used to call “a grower”. “Colosseums” is saved from being a by-the-numbers N.P tune by its lovely fuzz bass and an excellent performance by new drummer Joe Seiders.
…let’s talk about Joe Seiders. Remember when Bill Berry left REM and they made the out-of-character, but glorious “Up” album? Well, that’s (almost) what we have here. Seiders whacks out a relentless Motorik backbeat behind the bands trademark, spiraling melodies and it works beautifully. Sort of like a Krautrock Fifth Dimension…
Believe the hype. “Whiteout Conditions” will be nestling in the “Best of 2017” as sure as eggs is eggs. And quite right too.
“Whiteout Conditions” is out now via Concord