The New Pornographers aren't exactly new. AC Newman and Neko Case both have established respectable solo careers on top of the already well-seasoned band they both front. Pair that with third fronter Daniel Bejar, who has released more material with his band Destroyer than with TNP (who have a few albums to their credit). Speaking strictly in chronological order, The New Pornographers could be labeled an anachronism, lost in the early 2000s when power-pop meant The New Pornographers and not the latest screeching emo-kid from Long Island (what it might mean now, I'm not sure, I refuse to go to Long Island). But I'm sure somewhere out there, someone is calling Owl City power-pop. And the two don't even belong in the same zip code. drop the labels for a second, and listen.
The beauty of the New Pornographers and Together
is consistency in expectation. TNP sounds exactly the same as they always have, quality and tempo in tact. Case, Newman and Bejar have come together before and will come together again, trading on and off on the lead mic, oscillating from softer tunes like "My Shepard" to the Magnetic Fields-ish "Silver Jenny Dollar", to the soaring classic rockisms of "Your Hands (Together)". Together
is the total package, never a dull moment, catering directly to the familiarity of fans.
Plus, in my opinion, Together
is a double edged sword. Sure it works for the followers, but it's a great stand alone record as well (for newbies). I'm not terribly well versed in the mythology of TNP myself, and as a result, I can't pretend to explain how this is an amalgamation of the three principal members, or a distinction between their solo projects. But that's the catch: it doesn't really matter. Together
is unstuck in time, a thoroughly enjoyable record whether its the first you've heard in years or the latest in a slew of obsession. It's unisex and one-size-fits-all. Fads are like fingers, always moving. They're up, they're down, they are flipping you off or tickling you. But TNP is far from a finger on the hand of the indie music scene, they are more like part of the bicep. Dependable, and frequently used by all.
We could spend some time searching through the gems in the lines, like the chewy use of "byzantine" in "Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk", but I think it's better if you catch those moments on your own. Finding at least one lyric to cling to can make or break a record for a listener, that's why they usually write so many great ones (or try to). Here the Pornographers succeed, not surprisingly, in creating a scrapbook of images and ideas that warrants a permanent home in your collection. It's one for the shelf, to fondly look at from time to time. You don't have to show everyone you meet, or thumb it everyday, but it sure as hell will stay within reach on that shelf, forever. -joe puglisi
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MP3: "Your Hands (Together)" (Together)
The New Pornographers on Myspace