vrijdag 12 mei 2017

Whiteout Conditions. The New Pornographers

I can remember seeing pictures of whiteout conditions in my country but can't remember having been in such a condition ever. Global warming is making heavy snowfall an exception for quite some years now. Let alone in combination with heavy frost.

So now an album with that title, from a band that I rather like. What does the new album bring. A lot of pleasure, that is for sure. With the exception of Dan Bejar and drummer Kurt Dahle the whole crew is there, delivering the purest of pop rock imaginable.

Owning all records and having seen the band perform twice in the past years, a new album is more than welcome. Carl Newman has come up with eleven new pop gems that he seems to have a patent on delivering. The songs pulsate with energy and shine from being polished so hard. In combination with the harmonies and alternating lead vocals an unbeatable formula is tapped from. The only imaginable complaint is that the variation created by Dan Bejar's songs, like on 'Brill Bruisers', is lacking here. That would be really splitting hairs though when the level of songs and musicianship is as high as on Whiteout Conditions.

Part of the energy that oozes out of this record comes directly from the propulsing synths that are being played in the best 80s tradition, merged into a high and modern poprock environment. The synths keep at it. Never in a straight manner. Always sending out signals with a slight delay built in, creating a digital heartbeat in the music. The synths set the pace of Whiteout Conditions.

They are incorporated into alternative rocksongs with a fine bed of drums and bass. On top of it all are the vocals. With fine singers like Carl Newman, Neko Case and Kathryn Calder it is possible to work out intricate vocal arrangements. And that is what The New Pornographers do as its trademark. The contrast between Newman and the two ladies is nice. Once they all go at it together things get even better.

Overlooking the whole album, I have to conclude that the touch of brilliance that 'Brill Bruisers' and 'Twin Cinema' both hold is missing. A hint of something shiningly fresh and new. For that Whiteout Conditions is too dark in sound. Or too whitened out, to keep with the title. I find it hard to internalise the songs, where on other albums I did not have that problem. This doesn't take anything from the fact that I enjoy listening to this album. In the end it is the new The New Pornographers album and that is enough. There's so much to enjoy here.


You can listen to 'High Ticket Attractions' here:


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