Opening with a salvo of buzzing strings that splinter and layers in undeniably catchy fashion, Together summarily rejoices in the power of indie rock and a killer hook. The New Pornographers deliver another sturdy slate of complex songwriting and gorgeously textured compositions on this, the band’s fifth album. When those early cello strains collide with electric guitars and tremolo yells on crashing opening number “Moves,” Together lifts off and avoids ever coming down again.
The supergroup continues to mine the vast talents of individual members, while continuing the trends of 2007’s Challengers, by slowing it down and allowing songs to crescendo and snowball while incorporating a slew of diverse instrumentation. Cavernous toms, mariachi horns and subtle vocoders steadily collapse upon one another, thickening the mix on “My Shepherd” until a lone acoustic guitar breaks away and allows the slender chorus melody (“You’re my lord, you’re my shepherd / Careful, kid, no one gets hurt / You made me this way”) to lift effortlessly into the ether. Neko Case’s hymnal love letter vocals here and on the bouncing, joyous “Crash Years” are deliciously enhanced by her devotedly nonchalant delivery. Soaring melodies are lush throughout, with especially bracing bombast on the slow-dance fireworks of “Daughters of Sorrow” and the characteristically quirky sing-along of standout “Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk.”
Elsewhere, Dan Bejar’s twisty-turning narratives and breathy vocals on “If You Can’t See My Mirrors” and “Silver Jenny Dollar” provide mid-tempo, lost Sunday adventuring within compact melodies and expanding, full-band compositions. The sad and stuttering album closer, “We End Up Together” blossoms into the album’s most involved and exciting track. Chunky orchestration, reminiscent of Lou Reed’s epic “Street Hassle,” intertwines with punctuated couplets dispersed across the song’s slowly creeping crescendo as A.C. Newman’s lament of “Oh damage, sweet damage” kicks off a tentative love affair.
Favorite Track: “We End Up Together”
Reviewer Bio - Christopher j Ewing is a writer and filmmaker living in Los Angeles with a girl and a designer dog. He is in a band by himself, has a myspace account at www.myspace.com/wastedpotentialproduction and a production company at (www.wastedpotentialproductions.com) for freelance film, video and journalism work.