The New Pornographers
Whiteout Conditions is the seventh album for The New Pornographers and will hopefully see the cessation of them being referred to as a supergroup as they are a band in their own right and the main vehicle for many of their current members. This record finds the band looking for a sound that will flow through the whole record as well as attempting to up the tempo the whole way through.
With AC Newman and Neko Case still leading the charge, this is the first album that Dan Bejar has been able to contribute to as he is in the middle of creating a new Destroyer album. Without Bejar adding his separate flavour of pop music to the New Pornographers, Whiteout Conditions takes a different approach to the vocals. Rarely do the singers do extended periods of ‘solo’ lead vocals with the band taking a more blended approach to the delivery of the words.
While they have always peddled in high energy pop, The New Pornographers have supped the ante with an album that is considerably faster than previous outings. Play Money is drowned in keyboards and a swag of vocals to give it a hint of eighties sheen, while still having the type of effervescent chorus that you would expect of these masters of melody.
The band have long been considered bubblegum in their approach to date, but Whiteout Conditions has them straddling more weighty topics. Newman never saw himself as a political writer by any stretch, but even the most upbeat have been challenged by the Trump era. High Ticket Attractions covers the anxiety of this period, while the title track ruminates on the eternal and internal battle of combatting depression. The foot tapping nature of the song is a short term tonic of itself.
Whiteout Conditions finds The New Pornographers to be faster and more fleet of phrase than before. It is a frenetic ride from start to finish with a heavy reliance on keyboards that sees it being more Kajagoogoo than Krautrock.