If I was asked for a list of my favorite bands, The New Pornographers would not enter my mind. Yet every time they release a new album, I ask myself “why not?” The Canadian supergroup has done nothing but release album after album of finely crafted power-pop. Their seventh studio album, Whiteout Conditions is no different.
Kicking off with “Play Money,” the album is relentlessly upbeat. On the track, Neko Case convincingly sings “for a fee, I would fight any foe/for a fee, I would take any blow” over a distorted, pitch-bending synth riff and the Pornographers’ patented wall-of-sound.
The torrid pace set by the opener never rests. AC Newman takes lead vocals for “High Ticket Attraction” which Neko Case doubles. With chugging guitars and synthesizer flourishes, the track sounds like The Cars in their heyday.
The album only slows slightly for the closing track “Avalanche Alley” which is still pretty damn energetic. Some effects on AC Newman’s vocals gives the track a bit of an ethereal feel.
The only negatives that can be said about the album would be nitpicky at best. There is definitely an aspect of the loudness war going on in the album. That combined with the pace of the album can make some songs sound derivative. The strong melody work from the vocalists negates that issue usually as songs unfold.
Contributing to that sameness is the lack of Daniel Bejar. His unique vocal styling and songwriting usually broke up what could be considered the incessant poppiness of Case and Newman. Without him there is a lack of variation.
The mainlined stream of pop pumped out by Whiteout Conditions is a wonder. Hopefully, I’ll keep that in mind the next time someone asks me about my favorite bands.