REVIEW: New Pornographers “Brill Bruisers”


I’ve been a fan of the New Pornographers since their first record, Mass Romantic, way back in 2000. That said, I’m still not any closer to figuring out exactly what they’re supposed to be. I suppose this is to be expected, given the disparate elements that compose the Pacific Northwest super-group. Neko Case has her roots in alt-country, while Dan Bejar’s other band, Destroyer, deals in glossy 80s pop homages. Main songwriter A.C. Newman’s ear for pop song craft ostensibly ties the whole mess together, but even the Pornographers’ best records seem like the work of several different bands, veering from acoustic ballads to electro-pop in the space of a song. Though they don’t have a bad album in their catalogue per se, I’m not sure I can say that the band has a singular creative mission.

Until now.

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Brill Bruisers may be their best record yet, both in terms of sheet listenability and the sense of wholeness. From the opening title track, laden with crunchy electric bass and vocal harmonies, to my personal standout track, “Marching Orders,” this feels like the work of a band that finally knows what it was put on earth to do. It is my belief that the New Pornographers exist to produce a unique brand of exuberant power pop, catchy but quirky, esoteric but approachable. With Brill Bruisers, the band has finally found their gateway album, an entry point for the skeptical would-be-fan. I wouldn’t be surprised, if, almost two decades into their career, this record represented an elevation to a new fan base. All the elements are there, and I can say that after producing countless memorable songs, nobody deserves it more.

New Pornographers “Brill Bruisers” Release Date: August 26, 2014.

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