Words About Music
The New Pornographers “Brill Bruisers”
I really dislike the idea of a “supergroup.” A bunch of musicians from established musical acts collaborating on a project that is likely only meant as a cash-grab. I mean, who even listens to Chickenfoot? You remember Chickenfoot, don’t you? Anyway, The New Pornographers is a band you could probably call a supergroup. You’ve got solo artist and former Zumpano member A.C. Newman, alt-country fave Neko Case, and Dan Bejar from the critically adored indie rock band Destroyer. All three combine their voices and respective styles to create a fun blend of indie rock, twee pop, and power pop. Think Cheap Trick meets The Magnetic Fields. The New Pornographers enjoyed critical success in the early-to-mid 2000s with their excellent first three studio albums. That success waned for a while with their less-enjoyed fourth and fifth records. Since then, Destroyer, A.C. Newman, and Neko Case have all released successful records. With that, the New Pornographers are back with their sixth album, “Brill Bruisers.”
While The New Pornographers has never been a favorite of mine, I do find their music enjoyable and even lovable. Especially when it comes to their highly acclaimed “Twin Cinema.” Even though the quality started to go down a bit after that album, I think they have a pretty solid discography. The world probably didn’t need a sixth album from this band. But, thankfully, the group reconvened for what I consider to be a decent, perfectly enjoyable album. It may not be quite the return to form fans may have been looking forward to, but it’s pretty much just as good as it should be. It may not reach legendary status, but “Brill Bruisers” is a good album in its own right. There’s tons of catchy, punchy music that calls back to the upbeat sounds of Big Star and Teenage Fanclub.
If anything, The New Pornographers are victims of their own simplicity and lack of ambition on this album. While their chosen genre and style isn’t one that requires anything beyond catchy indie-friendly guitar music, there are reasons why their older albums are considered to be better. Maybe by the time their third album had been certified another modern classic the band had reached a saturation point. This type of power pop is only fun for so long; after a while it can get tiresome. While a majority of the songs on “Brill Bruisers” manage to be memorable and fun, others feel more like half-baked ideas that shouldn’t be on the album in the first place.
If you’re looking for a groundbreaking album, you should avoid “Brill Bruisers” along with probably anything The New Pornographers have ever done. If you want a fun indie pop record, check this band out (specifically their first three albums, though this one is also good). Ultimately, I have the same complaints about this album that I did about Jenny Lewis’ “The Voyager.” Catchy, but not essential. At the very least, The New Pornographers is a supergroup that feels like a regular band rather than some of indie rock’s best minds coming together after establishing themselves as talented musicians in the ’90s.
SCORE – 7.5
FAVORITE TRACKS – Brill Bruisers, Fantasy Fools, War on the East Coast, Marching Orders, Born With a Sound, Dancehall Domine, Hi-Rise, You Tell Me Where