One of my most anticipated records of the year, Together lives up to the quality work I’ve come to expect from the New Pornographers.
Since my college roommate first gave me a copy of Twin Cinema the nearly-orchestral compositions as well as the knockout vocals of Neko Case and Carl Newman (both products of the New Pornographer’s “Indie Super-Group” classification) of the group have kept me hooked. Their catalog both before and after Cinema has been laudable.
The singles that preceded this particular record, ‘Your Hands (Together)’ and ‘Crash Years‘, are the driving forces which carry the effort. They follow, as a pair, the opening track ‘Moves’, whose gutsy string section marks a departure from past records where they seldom played a staring role, instead backing the more traditional guitar/piano solo lines. Simply throwing strings on a section in and of itself is not as impressive as how they’re used, and it’s here that you can really hear the level of sophistication the band has reached.
Similarly, the brass on ‘A Bite Out of My Bed‘ gives this album a layer of texture that, though it was not really missed previously, had been missing. It helps alleviate one of the few legitimate criticisms of the New Pornographers I ascribe to, which is that many of the tracks can bleed together, sounding too similar. Even still, after 10-15 listens, a couple of the middle tracks (‘My Shepherd’, ‘If You Can’t see My Mirrors’) don’t really grab me like the earlier ones do (‘Moves’, the singles, ‘Jenny Silver Dollar’, ‘Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk’).
The closer, ‘We End Up Together’, is a great companion track to ‘Your Hands (Together)’. Minimalist at first, it layers on some strings and the playful
Mah mah mah mah
We end up together
chorus evokes a surprisingly sentimental “awwwww” in me, beautifully rounding out these 12 new tracks. I should expect no less.
An Aside: The snowglobe-esque album art is also worth a closer look; I like it a lot.