The greatest challenge that comes with trying to praise The New Pornographers’ latest release is that the album may actually be the band’s best yet — something that is certainly a difficult thing to say, when considering the strength of its many celebrated past releases (think neo-classics like Twin Cinema or Mass Romantic). Together reunites the Canadian supergroup for another energetic round of rock ’n’ roll-influenced batch of songs reminiscent of its earlier work. The album as a whole shows all the good markings of a mature, talented and creative band as it stays true to its signature sound while accommodating natural stylistic shifts. Just don’t expect a whole lot of surprises.
The “roots” of The New Pornographers lie in indie and punk-influenced instrumentation as accompaniment to the full-time vocal duet of lead singers Neko Case and Dan Bejar. The duo’s pop-influenced arrangements and rock guitars back their harmonizing vocals consistently well. While 2007’s Challengers may have suggested the band would move in a softer, more melodic direction, Together erases these suspicions. Case, Bejar and company return with intense energy that drives just about every track. The mix of pop-rock influences with a vintage, summertime feel results in a sound somewhere in between Spoon and Dr. Dog.
Together may almost be too energetic for its own good. While each song carries a breezy feel and a vibrant blending of crisp guitars, electronic keyboards and impeccable vocals, it is easy to get lost in its routine. However, there are tracks that easily escape this trap: “Crash Years” features dynamic lyrics over a well-arranged instrumentation. “My Shepherd” stands out as the slowest yet most memorable cut on the album. All Together, The New Pornographers’ latest effort definitely merits consideration as a great album from both longtime fans of the band and new listeners.