Rating: C+Sometimes there comes a point in a band's career where they haven't changed, and maybe you haven't changed, but your tolerance of them has. Or maybe that's just a polite way to say they need to start doing some different shit. This is where I am with The New Pornographers. I really enjoyed their previous albums, from Mass Romantic to Twin Cinema to their most recent offering, Challengers. But somewhere along the line, The New Pornographers' music just stopped hitting me in the same way.
The band has never been an album band, really. It's a little bit silly to throw around the term supergroup when you're largely talking about bands few have heard of, but when you have three songwriting voices - A.C. Newman, Dan Bejar (of Destroyer), and Neko Case - you're not going to write 12 songs that are thematically linked, at least not very easily. So it comes down to the singles - are there those couple songs that just grab me and force me to listen to them over and over? I'm afraid not. There's no "Bleeding Heart Show," "Sing Me Spanish Techno," or "Myriad Harbour." I've listened through this album a dozen times, and nothing grabs me. Sure, there are a couple catchy tunes - "Crash Years" and "Silver Jenny Dollar" in particular - but nothing that's having me push the repeat button on my iPod or look up the lyrics on the web.
Particularly disappointing is the reduction of A.C. Newman's voice over the last couple albums. When solo effort The Slow Wonder came out in 2004, followed by Twin Cinema, it seemed like he was going to be an important voice in indie songwriting over the next decade. Instead, his writing has taken a backseat to Bejar's and Case's over the last couple albums. I'm not going to play armchair psychologist; I'm just going to say, "Mr. Newman, please step it up. Your contributions are required to make the next great New Pornographers album."
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The New Pornographers Official Site