July 08, 2007

The New Pornographers: Myriad Harbour + My Rights Versus Yours: MP3s

So, here it is, my favourite track from the Canadian supergroup The New Pornographers upcoming album, Challengers. "Myriad Harbour" is one of three Dan Bejar (Destroyer) songs found on the upcoming record and after countless listens this is my pick as best song on the disc, with another Bejar tune "Entering White Cecilia" also in the top five. I don't know what to say, except that Mr Newman better pull his socks up and knock out a stunner of a solo album in the next year, or so, to keep up with Mr Bejar. In fact, this record was very disappointing in the beginning, except of course for this Bejar song, it's just that not much of Carl Newman's input was mainlining it's powerpop sugar into my creaky old veins, but that's slowing changing with time. Lead off track "My Rights Versus Yours" wouldn't be out of place on Newman's great solo debut, The Slow Wonder (until the band begins to join in), and Kathryn Calder's first foray singing lead on a track, "Failsafe", is another standout with it's dreamy bed of tremeloed guitar and Calder's easy, relaxed vocal. What falls a little flat are the Neko Case songs, "Go Places" and "Challengers", and the songs that wouldn't be out of place on earlier New Pornos records, songs like "All The Things That Go To Make Heaven And Earth" and "Mutiny, I Promise You". What makes Challengers different than earlier albums is that here the best songs will emerge after many listenings, I think. Since the band's debut album, Mass Romantic, the best songs jumped up and spun you round on first listen, with Challengers it appears that Newman's pop craftsmanship is maturing and it will take a few more sips of this wine to appreciate it fully. Now, regarding my comment that Newman had better pull his socks up and knock out a stunner of a solo album to keep up with Mr Bejar... I guess I've come to a better understanding of this new record while writing this, but I hope he does deliver a stunning solo album, I love The Slow Wonder much more than any New Pornos disc. But it's funny how Bejar's lyric says "I said to Carl look up for once, see just how the sun sets in the sky", funny because I think that Carl Newman spent a lot of time looking up with past records, but with Challengers is now spending more time looking inward, resulting in a more challenging, although rewarding listen. After saying all this, I have to add that I doubt this record will outsell any other New Pornos album by a large margin. This isn't the one that will take them to the next level commercially, but it will satisfy the patient listener.

myriad harbour [mp3]
my rights versus yours [mp3]

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  1. Anonymous2:39:00 AM

    Interesting take. I found the new album a step UP from the incredible Twin Cinema. Those 2 Neko Case tracks you mentioned, in particular Challengers, I found quite impressive. Maybe a little more straightforward for Mr. Newman but still poetic and haunting. And Ms. Case's vocals are astounding as usual. Failsafe I agree is a stunner and I especially love the vocals on that one and how they are harmonized yet not harmonized completely.

  2. Anonymous6:42:00 PM

    Yeah, the only thing I agree with you on is Myriad Harbour being the best track. Otherwise, solid effort on everyone's part, I'd say.

  3. The Choir Practice also have a version of Failsafe on their new self titled release.

  4. "Entering White Cecilia" sounds like an outtake from Destroyer's Rubies and not a New Pornographers song. Even though many of the Bejar penned Pornos songs have life as a Destroyer cut in some form (Jackie Dressed in Cobras [sub-pop single], Breakin the Law, Streets of Fire) this was the first one that I have heard on as an NP track sounded like it was straight off a Destroyer record.