The impact that The New Pornographers have had on the music scene is obvious in every attempted copying of their style seen more and more often among up and coming bands today. Albums like Twin Cinema (2005) and Mass Romantic (2000) were very important. These albums embodied a certain aspect of the band, an intensity and vision generally reserved for the most seasoned musicians. But as the years wore on so did The New Pornographers.
It hasn’t been too long since The New Pornographers came out with their album Challengers in 2007, but since then one member of the Canadian Indie band has released a solo album that challenges the need for other members of the band. The person we are talking about here is Neko Case and the album her 2009 release of Middle Cyclone, an album which redefined her as a solo artist and a standout among her peers. Sure Case has released other albums without the help of The New Pornographers, but they couldn’t hold a candle to Middle Cyclone. Case has fine tuned her own brand of folksy indie rock to a point where it is hard to find a fare artist to even propose a comparison; The New Pornographers on the other hand seem to be struggling to recapture some of their former energy with the release of Together.
The title of this album is Together the more you listen, the more you think they might be better if they were apart. Whenever you think back to some of the great songs that this band has come out with such as July Jones, Jackie, From Blown Speakers and Sing Me Spanish Techno, you are given the distinct impression that Together is not the band’s best work. Aside from a few stand outs on the new album like Your Hands (Together) and Silver Denny Dollar this album is definitely a disappointment. The reason being, Together though it’s definitely a The New Pornographers album but it lacks much of the zest the former albums had in spades. Perhaps it is a sign of the band’s maturing but Together feels like a more moderate example of what they are capable of doing.
As a band The National has slowly been breaking into a more public view. Once an indie darling, the band known among the more snooty indie band aficionados as the New York band with deep voiced lead singer, with influences that seemingly stemmed from a more British style of music. As the years wore on since the band made their first album back in the late 90s, The National and their music has become more recognizable to the average music listeners ear. And with the impressive release of High Violet the band obviously still has gas left in the tank.
The new album quietly draws you in as a listener, partly to prepare you for some somber lyrical narratives, but also to stylishly introduce you to one of The National’s best albums to date. If High Violet were to come on to strong at first you might brush it off but then it wouldn’t be High Violet, the album is an anthem for post rainy day blues. Unlike previous albums provided by this band, High Violet though dark in tone and content is notably more lighthearted than say Boxer or Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers. Key Tracks on High Violet, Anyone’s Ghost, Little Faith and Lemonword.
As for the value of this album, well it might depend more on the popularity of the group rather than the actual fidelity of the songs. In comparison to other indie acts currently grinding away trying to come up with something interesting, what you get on Forgiveness Rock Record is on the more pedestrian side of things. A nice, easy to swallow dose of musical styles, and that’s not a bad thing. This album is sort of a snap shot of what is going on in the indie scene in that part of Canada.
Note: Paul’s Tomb A Triumph is reminiscent of Spencer Krug’s earlier efforts with his band Sunset Rubdown. Krug, a former member of Frog Eyes came out with the album Shut Up I Am Dreaming in 2006 and it’s strikingly similar in style to the new Frog Eyes album. Of course one could say that anything that has been touched by the far-reaching members of Wolf Parade has a certain feel to it. Whether it’s with Swan Lake, Handsome Furs, Sunset Rubdown etc., the effect of the group resonates strongly in many bands styles and although Frog Eyes is now apart from Wolf Parade’s tendrils, it too has taken on some familiar characteristics. But that does not somehow undercut what Frog Eyes has done here with Paul's Tomb A Triumph, it’s just an observation on stylist similarities and influences.
A Theory About Evelyn Evelyn’s Formation: The artists involved in the conceptualization of the twins are great fans of old timey music and circus freaks. But are far removed from the like, so they created this alter ego – would it be egos since they are conjoined twins but at the same time they have one big body … I don’t know. They do this in order to satisfy this unhealthy urge to be a character from one of Timothy Burton’s films. Or they just have an obsession with the twins from the shining and wondered one night if they would have been scarier if they were living conjoined twins rather than just regular, yet dead, twins. Perhaps, or maybe explaining the motivations for making such personas are better left to those who created them and the imaginations of the fans who follow them.