The New Pornographers are back with their seventh studio album; Whiteout Conditions. The Canadian seven-piece refusal to surrender their signature 80s sound is refreshing rather than regressive, even in the year 2017.
Opener Play Money is the ideal album aperitif, big on playfully jabbing synths and addictive percussion. Clocking in at over four minutes though, it would benefit from a punchier ending to match the excitable energy present throughout the early stages of the track. One of the aces The New Pornographers have, is their ability to switch up vocalists thanks to their forever impressive line-up of talented musicians. The eponymous track; Whiteout Conditions, is testament to this and provides an early highlight. There are melodies indebted to ELO and 80s teen movie soundtracks, an eclectic mix where anything feels possible in that four minutes and eight seconds of magic.
High Ticket Attractions was the lead single to be taken from Whiteout Conditions, and could easily have been an LCD Soundsystem B-side. There are plenty of new-wave influences exercised across this tune, but instead of breaking the glass ceiling The New Pornographers politely stop just shy of this song’s potential. This Is The World Of The Theatre is one of the more unique cuts, mixing a slightly folk-style with vintage electronica. It’s moments like this where The New Pornographers come across as what would happen if Belle & Sebastian were to go 80s.
Darling Shade and Second Sleep showcase two different sides to The New Pornographers, sitting side by side to give Whiteout Conditions a more progressive feel. The urgency of the melodies contrast with the mellower vocal styles, which on paper perhaps shouldn’t work – but The New Pornographers see your rule book and have torn it right up.
As Whiteout Conditions draws to a close, there is no let up in the enthusiasm The New Pornographers have for their new material. The youthful essence pushes a good record into really good record territory and certainly makes for an enjoyable listen. The introspective We’ve Been Here Before isn’t as urgent as previous tracks, yet it has been carefully placed for a perfectly timed nostalgia trip. But before you worry about The New Pornographers letting their record end on a sullen note, Avalanche Alley kicks in and acts as a reminder of what these guys do best.
Otherworldly new-wave is one of the most timeless genres of recent times, and The New Pornographers do it so well that there’s no reason why it can’t survive another few decades. The 80s may be long gone, but the spirit is alive and kicking on Whiteout Conditions.