After repeatedly being told by iTunes and Pandora that I needed to check out The New Pornographers, I decided it was time to give them a listen. All I can say is, as of right now, my opinion of these programs’ music matching capabilities is quite high.
The New Pornographers’ new album, “We End Up Together,” is an infectious blend of pop ideals and ’60s rock influences infused with indie values. This band has managed to successfully walk the tightrope between catchy and cheesy, holding back the cheesiness with their indie and ’60s pop elements.
The multiple vocal dynamics – namely the female and male duality – add another dimension of depth to the music that separates them from the norm a bit more. Essentially, it makes the record that much more indie.
The record starts off with “Moves.” Within the first 20 seconds, you’re hit with essentially every instrument used throughout the album – the cello, overdriven guitars and all that goodness.
The next track, “Crash Years,” is a catchy indie-pop tune. The cello plays the lead over an acoustic guitar rhythm, until the hook comes in, in all its overdriven glory. Keeping true to indie form, the song has a catchy, whistled lead to add some flavor.
After “Crash Years” is “Your Hands (Together).” The track starts off strong with strong overdriven power chords over a tremolo rhythm guitar and soft organ that give the song a ’60s pop vibe, but with a heavier, modern twist. Overall, the song’s just a fun listen.
“Silver Jenny Dollar” starts off like a Who song, with Peter Townshend-like windmill chords and Keith Moon-esque drum fills. Then the song transitions into the acoustic verses, which have a strong “Here Comes Your Man”-type Pixies influence. The contagiously catchy chorus sounds markedly ’90s alternative, with its peppy backing vocals. The Pixies influence comes out at various points during the album, and those are definitely some of the best parts of the record.
Consequently, one of the best songs on the album, “If You Can’t See My Mirrors,” has a strong Pixies/indie quality as well. This track, especially with the lead vocalist’s almost European tone and choice of melodies, has a Peter, Bjorn & John air to it. The song starts with a classic indie twang guitar and has some melodic leads that almost echo Sonic Youth at certain points. The chorus has some of the Pixies flair, and just like the rest of the album, has a great potential to get stuck in your head.
Immediately after is the extremely catchy “Up in the Dark.” The song starts off with a pounding snare and a flurry of acoustic guitars and leads. The upbeat verses, like many of the songs on the record, are sung by the multiple vocalists together, and are backed by pounding drums. The chorus is a catchy chant, carrying the song’s upbeat spirit.
“Valkyrie in the Roller Disco” starts off with a mellow piano melody and a muted guitar. The vocals, shared by the multiple singers once more, create another catchy melody over the lead guitars that come in later in the song. Despite being slower and more mellow than the other songs on the record, The New Pornographers nevertheless managed to make it link in with the album as a whole, making sure it doesn’t feel out of place.
Contrasting the song before it, “A Bite Out of My Bed” immediately kicks off with an extremely upbeat lead that sounds like a combination of trumpet, guitar and string, over a crunchy rhythm guitar. Over this incredibly upbeat base is a chant of “ooh’s” that make the song sound like a pseudo-Beatles track (that’s a good thing).
The final track, “We End Up Together” is similar in style to “Crash Years,” with cello/guitar driven lead melodies. Unfortunately, the technique in “Crash Years” simply sounds better. Where “We End Up Together” truly shines is the simple, quiet acoustic intro with just a guitar, vocals, and minimal strings. After the 44 seconds of it, the song never goes back. This intro sequence is one of the best moments on the record – it’s a shame the band didn’t pull from it more.
This is without a doubt a fantastic album. It will capture you with its fusion of strings, The Who, The Pixies and some power pop.