You know I love The New Pornographers, right? It has nothing to do with who’s in the “super” band, I mean, sure I love Bejar, Newman, Neko, etc, but really it’s just their amazing output that fills my heart with swirling joy.
With that being said, my only ONLY complaint about their albums is their lengths. Every time I listen, it seems as though after I had only just begun listening, bouncing around, singing every harmony I dare attempt, that it’s over… all too soon.
It’s my personal hell.
Beyond that, the only other thing that has annoyed me about this band, is the same thing that annoys me about every band that evolves their sound, it’s the bullshit critics bitching and moaning that bands done changed, oh why oh why can’t they go back to their roots, while all the while claiming they don’t want a Pinkerton II, etc. With the release of Challengers, critics started lamenting the lack of songs like “Mass Romantic.
I call bullshit.
Bands, like people, evolve and change. Your job, as a fan or critic or whatever, is to A) hope & expect that a band is following their hearts, souls, and inspirations truly, B) for you to either love it or hate it and C) hope beyond all hopes that if they break up, go to rehab, and/or find jesus, then reunite that they never ever EVER make another album.
Sorry. Reunions suck (hey, we’re friends again!). So do rehab albums. But I digress*…
*always wanted to use that
Don’t like Hazards Of Love, wish the Decemberist still sounded like “Red Right Ankle”? Then go listen to “Red Right Ankle” and shut the fuck up.
Weezer is probably the most glaringly obvious example. Weezer and I have finally and officially broken up — Hurley was the signing of the paper work, but Raditude was the official separation — but I will still listen to Maladroit, Blue, and Pink and I’m okay with that. Though… how you go from this:
Is beyond me.
So, Challengers came out and outside of the “return to form” “All Of The Things That Make Heaven & Earth”, most critics, unable to listen in the vacuum of it’s own release, were not all that impressed. Man were they missing out!
And now Together is out and it evolves from where Challengers left off, still more ornate, still meatier and less sugary, a bit more organic and absolutely gorgeous.
But, still, for me… Whenever “We End Up Together” starts wrapping up, though I’m excited to hear “Moves” again, I….. I want MORE! I… I’m not done yet!
Hypocritical balsphemy, I know. But, at least you know I’m honest.
So here’s what I did. I tried something out. I took these two slightly maligned, too slightly too short for my own needs pop gems and mixed them together, alternating track by track, adding in my two very favourite b-sides from their executive edition of Challengers — I still think that was a brilliant bit of marketing that I ate up with glee! It was the album that kept on giving!
The result of this mixture? Oh………. oh my!
A sprawling over one and a half hours of pop mastery!!! From when the strings of “Moves” kicks in until the syrupy vocals of Dan leads us on a bittersweet fade-out sing-along of “The Spirit Of Giving”, we flow up & down, fast & slow, the glorious harmonies, and look Pitchfork, twice as much Neko (see 5th paragraph)!
Now, this is just with a simple alternating tracklist with a couple b-sides tossed in, there are probably variations that may flow better for you, but man, talk about fulfilling!
It’s almost an over-indulgence, kinda like last night where, instead of making our home-made pizza on smaller pita bread, I made it on a larger naan bread, with chicken, onions, banana peppers, and then shredded up lots of goat gouda. Oh man, it was delicious and I didn’t stop eating until I had to unbuton my pants to breathe.
This, what I’m calling Together, We Are The Challengers Of… is that, by the time it ends you are so full of it’s deliciousness, the thought of some sugary sweet dessert spawns a wave of nausea! You struggle to breath as you lick your fingers, wipe your face, and think about how amazing the leftovers are going to be tomorrow……
4. All the Old Showstoppers
5. Your Hands (Together)
10. Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk
11. All the Things That Go to Make Heaven and Earth
12. My Shepherd
14. If You Can’t See My Mirrors
16. Up in the Dark
17. Entering White Cecilia
18. Valkyrie in the Roller Disco
19. Fugue State
20. Go Places
21. A Bite Out of My Bed
22. Mutiny, I Promise You
23. Daughters of Sorrow
24. Adventures in Solitude
25. We End Up Together
26. The Spirit of Giving