With no less than five songwriters among their number (including Destroyer’s Dan Bejar and the formidable talents of Neko Case), it’s understandable that The New Pornographers have often been considered slightly too eclectic for their own good. Enter Whiteout Conditions: the Vancouver octet’s seventh album is their most coherent statement yet. It’s also one of their very best.
See, no one’s ever doubted their songwriting chops; it’s just that the wide lens of their vision often felt like it took focus away from their clear strengths, whereas here the loose threads of their 70s-informed powerpop are collectively tightened by krautrock pulses, adding an identifiable sense of drive to the whole album. The opening one-two punch of Play Money and the titular Whiteout Conditions demonstrates this best, with vocal turns from Case and bandleader Carl Newman both illustrating the band’s singular knack for articulating both melancholy and hope within the same breath.
Whiteout Conditions also haunted by the spectre of New Order – particularly when it comes to the glistening synth motifs of the aforementioned title track – and benefits from a largely upbeat tone, even when singing about global warming or depression. Ultimately, however, their new approach chiefly serves to highlight not just the excellence of their new ideas, but what was always so good about them in the first place: these are really fucking good songs. Dive in wholeheartedly; you’ll be happy to float in the outrageously catchy Whiteout Conditions for a long time to come.
Listen to: Whiteout Conditions, We’ve Been Here Before
Buy The New Pornographers - Whiteout Conditions on LP/CD from Norman Records