The New Pornographers - Whiteout Conditions
The New Pornographers
With A.C. Newman, Neko Case and Dan Bejar as the driving force of The New Pornographers their music over these seven albums has always been a stellar blend of new wave synths and straight up power pop. Whiteout Conditions is no different but it is the first album without Dan Bejar and does lack some of his oddness. What the record is not missing however is great harmonies which overtake any need for a real lead singer. It makes the blend so nice and even when Neko sings alone she still is backed by multiple versions of herself. It is not all sugar pop though; the title track has this really aggressive attack never letting up. It feels almost LCD Soundsystem-lite at times with that underlying aggression but The New Pornographers never loose sight of writing a catchy hook. The music they make is quite simple on the surface, and really more so this time around with Bejar still trying to make the next Destroyer album. The more avante garde parts feel a bit more decorative less like they are the driving force of the record. You really hang in there for something to blow you away but it often never comes. This feels like pop music that critics should love because it's not the "typical" pop. Like on "We've Been Here Before" where so much of the song is build up that just goes absolutely no where. It's not artistic, its just fucking frustrating. Yet you find yourself being sucked in because the sounds are just so damn beautiful, to the point of wanting to get baked as hell and let the record wash over you.
There are times where it feels like The New Pornographers are ticking all the boxes here, catchy, somewhat artsy and a ton of big synths but the album just never clicks into the next gear. It feels stuck from the start at this one level. It's plenty nice but also monotonous. That is the thing I keep coming back to with this record: I like it, but I don't love it. I think the band are getting a lot of credit for previous successes with this album as Rolling Stone named it one of their top 50 of the year, but I just don't see it. There are no peaks, no valleys just one pretty decent note. Even the last track "Avalanche City" which is so close to something incredible never fully gets there and before you know it the whole album is over and you don't even know how to feel. It's an odd position to be in liking something but really having nothing good to say about it, but that is where this album leaves me. Maybe I'm losing my edge, or maybe The New Pornographers are but in any case this album doesn't blow me away like I hoped it would.
6.9 out of 10