The New Pornographers: Continue as a Guest (Merge) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The New Pornographers

Continue as a Guest

Merge

Mar 31, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


When The New Pornographers debuted in 2000 with the melodic, energetic Mass Romantic, they likely weren’t thinking 22 years down the line, where they are indie rock mainstays and a shining example of long term success. Their ninth album, Continue as a Guest, feels almost like a victory lap, a new offering of their classic sound.

The New Pornographers, whose core group consists of A.C. Newman, Neko Case, Kathryn Calder, John Collins, Todd Fancey, and Joe Seiders, have relied for many years on a sense of maximalism to guide their sound—stacks of harmony, double tracked vocals, horn sections, and bubblegum synth lines have always populated their songs. In this way, their songs have always sounded celebratory, like the choir vocal ending of Twin Cinema’s epic “The Bleeding Heart Show.”

Continue as a Guest follows suit. Thematically, the record is concerned with what many songwriters have grappled with over the last several years: the malaise of a COVID-era world, isolation, societal collapse, etc. But in typical New Pornographers fashion, the majority of the record’s sound is unabashedly joyous. It’s this contradictory nature that has always made the band compelling (take, for example, the jaunty, major key bounce of “My Slow Descent Into Alcoholism” from Mass Romantic). Continue as a Guest begins with “Really Really Light,” and a guitar line that seems like a sonic nod to Buffalo Springfield’s iconic protest song “For What It’s Worth.” But the song deals in the quotidian, with Case and Newman singing of the weather and a lightness of heart, their vocal interplay comforting and familiar.

In this way, Continue as a Guest doesn’t necessarily cover new ground for the group, and the album’s most interesting moments are its darker ones, like the brooding “Pontius Pilate’s Home Movies” and the opening of the woozy closer, “Wish Automatic Suite.” But Newman has addressed this: “not feeling like a part of any zeitgeist, but happy to be separate and living your simple life, your long fade-out. Find your own little nowhere, find some space to fall apart, continue as a guest.” The New Pornographers are satisfied to remain in their space, operating as welcome, favored guests. (www.thenewpornographers.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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