This whole Rock criticism racket is admittedly pretty subjective and it shouldn’t come as any surprise that opinions are often shaped and determined by personal experience and preferences. As such, there is a small pocket of humanity that neither understands nor supports the contention that The New Pornographers feature the most amazing collection of musical talent to assemble under one creative umbrella in the past quarter century. And yet, even those poor undernourished souls who don’t quite connect the dots of the New Porns’ magnetic Pop appeal have to admit that the Canadian collective is riding an unprecedented streak of critical success.
The New Porns’ string of excellence extends across the last decade, from their exquisite 2000 debut, Mass Romantic, to their fifth injection of Indie Rock adrenaline, last year’s Together, a hair-raising evocation of ’60s sugar Pop via Roy Wood and Petula Clark time-machined into contemporary consciousness.
But the New Porns cannot be viewed merely by their achievements as a working band.
To really appreciate their magnificence, you have to include the parts that comprise the sum — frontman Carl Newman’s two solo gems (and even going back to his pre-Porns stints with Superconductor and Zumpano), Neko Case’s nearly perfect catalog, Dan Bejar’s eclectic, quirky and extensive output as Destroyer, new member Kathryn Calder’s wonderful work with Immaculate Machine (and her fantastic solo debut last year) and the collective outside accomplishments of Blaine Thurier, Todd Fancey, John Collins and Kurt Dahle.
The New Pornographers are clearly powered by one of the most formidable creative engines in recent Rock history and that fact is blindingly apparent when they hit the stage and translate their studio verve into pure hyper-caffeinated live performance.Just as “beautiful” seemed to inadequately describe Elizabeth Taylor’s radiance, “brilliant” falls short as an adjective for The New Pornographers. Subjective? You bet your ass. Absolutely correct? Ditto.
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