Music Review-The New Pornographers-“Whiteout Conditions”

Carl Newman – vocals, guitar
Neko Case – vocals
John Collins – bass
Blaine Thurier – keyboards, synthesizer
Todd Fancey – lead guitar
Kathryn Calder – vocals, keyboards, guitar
Joe Seiders – drums, vocals

1. “Play Money”
2. “Whiteout Conditions”
3. “High Ticket Attractions”
4. “This Is the World of the Theater”
5. “Darling Shade”
6. “Second Sleep”
7. “Colosseums”
8. “We’ve Been Here Before”
9. “Juke”
10. “Clockwise”
11. “Avalanche Alley”

Review-When it comes to The New Pornographers, I like to harken back to “ Twin Cinema”. That was the album I discovered them with, and also one of the best alternative albums of the early 2000s to me. It also introduced me to Neko Case, who I would fall in love with her solo material. This is a band that reviewers toss around the word, “ acclaimed”. It seems that much like Stars and Apples in Stereo, The New Pornographers are a critical darling but never really breaking out of their fan base for mainstream success. Where Stars have started to tone down their dark message and make their music more upbeat, it seems The New Pornographers are aiming towards mainstream in sort of the same way. Since 2014’s “ Brill Bruisers” a lot has happened to this band. They lost Kurt and Dan and also set up their own label. It seems with the changes, the sound has also seen a few changes. The power pop drenches the majority of this album. Where in the past, the band did not venture too much into safe territories, this time it seems they are in the shallow end.

Newman and Case with their vocals have never sounded better together or separately. The harmonies on this album are very much the key to the acceptance. The hooks in themes of depression and the ills of the world are a little unique, as is the 80s synth pop feel and the 90s alternative tone. The issue I have is “ High Ticket Attractions”. Why does every band have to focus on Donald Trump right now? I did not vote for him, nor support him, but the attacks from all directions or comments are getting too silly. That being said, this is their most commercially acceptable record. I feel if the mainstream were going to jump on the bandwagon, it would be with this album. I personally like their past releases, but this album is not bad and maybe over time I will love it even more. It just seems like Case needs to be challenged, and this cd was not a challenge for her. This is a good album, but when I hear they are working on new music, I expect the passion and the fire. This album was just a mild spark. This being said, a spark by this band is better than fires from others.

8.5 out of 10