The New Pornographers always seem to find a way to blaze their own trail. Perhaps it's because there are so many red heads in the band; they've always felt a little different. The group, led by the formidable AC Newman, features a heavyweight collection of Canadian indie rockers who've had bright solo careers. Alongside Newman are alt country belter Neko Case, the distinctive deadpan of Destroyer's Dan Bejar, and cooing crooner Kathryn Calder, amongst others. That the group has been able to have an on again off again relationship for the better part of 14 years speaks to their ability to continue to work together and produce great albums. Brill Bruisers just might be their best to date. The album takes its name from New York's Brill Building, a locus of compositional craft and creativity during the late 50s and early 60s. There is no shortage of either from Newman or the rest of the band. They seem to be reaching back to their earlier albums, before things had softened up, and injecting those sounds with a new found energy. The basic structures may be punk at their core, all driving guitars, but there are many layers of synthetic arpeggios bubbling on the surface. They seem to be channeling 60s pop, later-day ELO, and New Wave glam while referencing late 80s indie at the same time. The New Pornographers are inherently exuberant but are able to turn things up even more on Brill Bruisers. They achieve this through the juxtaposition of their dissimilar vocal styles and the forever forward charging songwriting of Newman and Bejar. They keep the affirmation and joy consistent for the entirety of the record, every song ending on an ever higher note. There's no doubt that The New Pornographers are a singular voice in indie rock. In an age of the boy girl duo and lonesome bedroom producer they standout as the greatest rock group you've ever heard. And their not shy about admitting how fun it is to be part of one. Limited edition multi-colored splatter pressing housed in a gatefold sleeve.
- music label: Matador 2014
reviewed by Hank Ohs 09/2014