Them Crooked Vultures
Monsters of Folk
The New Pornographers: Together
The evolution of The New Pornographers has been subtle, from the insistent power-pop of 2000’s Mass Romantic to the more sonically dynamic and lyrically personal Twin Cinema. The band’s last release, 2007’s Challengers, was its most wide-ranging, with dollops of strings and flutes, and the addition of yet another vocalist singing lead on occasion, with pianist Kathryn Calder joining the familiar voices of band leader A.C. Newman, Neko Case and Dan Bejar.
So, what’s new on Together? A fat blast of horns, for one thing, courtesy of The Dap Kings on songs like the leisurely, Chicago-esque “A Bite Out Of My Bed.” Bejar contributes a couple of his typically off-kilter narratives, the lush “Daughters of Sorrow” (more horns!) and sauntering “Silver Jenny Dollar.” Case’s incomparable voice dominates the ballad “My Shepherd” and pairs beautifully with Newman’s on “Crash Years”—it’s impossible not to smile when the whistling refrain kicks in on that joyful blast. The rest of the album is full of the brilliant pop-rock songcraft that Newman should be teaching courses on, now infused with increasingly muscular guitar on tunes like “Your Hands (Together)” and album-opener “Moves.” (Matador Records)