“Whiteout Conditions” The New Pornographers
The New Pornographers debuted in 2000 as something of a Canadian super-group, bringing together three accomplished lead singers — AC Newman, Dan Bejar and Neko Case — every few years for a new album and a tour. “Whiteout Conditions” is the band’s seventh album, but this one is missing Bejar, who was busy with his band, Destroyer. The album features propulsive, synth-driven indie rock, with fabulous vocals and mesmerizing harmonies from singer-songwriter Newman, Case, and keyboardist, Kathryn Calder. Newman’s tightly packed lyrics are meaningful and thought provoking. While this one may not have quite as many “hits” as the band’s previous album, “Brill Bruisers,” it’s solid indie rock.
Recommended: 3, 1, 2, 11, 10, 4, 8.
1. (4:37) Play Money – Multiple Layers of synths. Rapid-fire rhythm. Neko Case’s vocals rising and falling. Nice harmonies in the chorus. ***
2. (4:08) Whiteout Conditions – Newman takes the lead vocals, with strong harmonies from Case and Calder. Anthemic. Pulsing, soaring synths. ***
3. (3:51) High Ticket Attractions – First single. Complex synth structures are driven through a device called an arpeggiator, with a pulsing rhythm from synth bass, plus backbeat snare. Newman and Case/Calder on compelling call-and-response vocals. ****
4. (4:27) This Is the World of Theater – More of a straight-ahead rock song. Thumping synth bass rhythm. Female lead vocals; catchy chorus. **
5. (2:57) Darling Shade – Sparkling synths. Stinging guitar chords. Busy bass line. Snappy snare. Female lead vocals.
6. (3:15) Second Sleep – Pounding drums. Almost spoken male vocals. Case adds strangely piercing vocal tones.
7. (3:15) Colosseums – Fuzz guitar. Marimba-driven rhythm. Funkier male lead vocals.
8. (3:52) We’ve Been Here Before – Highly reverbed, church-like male/female harmonies soar. Shiny synths swirl around the vocals. **
9. (3:30) Juke – Glimmering, skittering synths over electronic drum track. Psychedelic male/female vocals.
10. (3:15) Clockwise – Driving tempo. Fuzzy guitars. Organ (or organ-like synth). Lead male vocals with chill female harmonies. Very catchy throwback melody. Great lyric. “In the valley of lead singers.” ***
11. (4:11) Avalanche Alley – Up-tempo closer. Rapid-fire drumming. Playful synths. Processed vocals from Newman. Female harmonies. Another tune with a throwback, 1970s feeling. ***