The New Pornographers: “Whiteout Conditions” Album Review

Written By: Filip Teovanovic


Originality: (4 / 5)
Vocals/Flow: (4 / 5)
Lyrics: (4 / 5)
Production: (4 / 5)
Average: (4 / 5)

In the first decade of the new millennium, Canadian indie scene simply exploded and new supernovas were born. These supernovas included Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, The Dears, The Rural Alberta Advantage, Japandroids, Metric, Feist, Great Lake Swimmers, Death From Above 1979,  and Mac DeMarco. The list of exquisite musicians coming from this country is inexhaustible, and one of the bands who righteously deserves their spot at the top of the indie pyramid are Vancouver-based The New Pornographers who returned this year after a three year intermezzo.

Their debut Mass Romantic came out in 2001 and it was followed by Electric Version (2003), Twin Cinema (2005), Challenger (2007), Together (2010), and Brill Bruisers (2014). Common attribute of these materials is that they are equally good. The first three albums were particularly enjoying apotheosis from critics and the audience. Their seventh album Whiteout Conditions impeccably fits their respectful discography.

First important change in comparison to other albums is departure of drummer Kurt Dahl whose rhythms were essential for the sound on their first efforts. His place was taken by Joe Sadier, a guy who incorporated more electronic elements congruent to the overall soundscape of the record. Second important change is the absence of Dan Bayer (Destroyer), who needed to dedicate more time to his mother-band. Since Bayer was not in the game, and even though delicate authenticity of their creation is untouched, Newman used the opportunity to compose all the songs on the album. The result is the most exuberant and the most melodic album in the career of The New Pornographers.

If Newman was a superhero, his superpower would be production of beautiful, catchy melodies and spectacular vocal arrangements. Alongside his soft tenor, you have a chance to hear mesmerizing vocal of Neko Case and equally mellifluous vocal of Kathryn Cader, so it comes as no surprise that the band pulled off some of the best songs in their discography. First four tracks, “Play Money”, “Whiteout Conditions”, “High Ticket Attractions” and “This Is The World Of The Theater” represent the pinnacle of the band’s sound. Another relevant property of the album is embellishment with 80s synth pop vibe supported by Cader’s piano segments that levitate above 90s fuzz pop guitar bases.

Supergroup label is something that had been attached to The New Pornographers. It is also something they have categorically rejected. What makes them unique, besides the fact that they are comprised of the successful solo musicians, is the ease with which all of the members adapted their individual style for the sake of harmonized, compact sound of the band. Whiteout Conditions is a collection of 11 magnificent, beguiling songs that confirm their status of supergroups, whether they want to be called a supergroup or not.

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