I haven’t even finished listening to the first song on the New Pornographers’ latest album, Together, and I’m bored. This is a band that once inspired me to do that least cool of things — join the band onstage to dance — way back in 2001 at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Man, that was fun. Has it already been five years since they played a preview of Twin Cinema at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster, PA? It has, hasn’t it?
It sounds like a snide, elitist thing to say, but the New Pornographers weren’t built to last. They were that rarest of animals: a supergroup not only didn’t suck, but actually produced two classic albums and a passable third before becoming adult contemporary claptrap.
You see, it would’ve been wonderful if they never really formed a band as such, just produced Mass Romantic, toured, and then went their separate ways. Sure, Electric Version is a spectacular album and I wouldn’t want to forget how fantastic it was to see them play those songs, too, but it’s just that it’s hard to look back on those albums and see them in the same light as they were made. Together, and it’s predecessor, Challengers, are shockingly boring mid-tempo affairs that make you wonder how the New Pornographers ever packed so many hooks into “To Wild Homes.”
The pace of their career makes me think they released those great albums, split briefly, and then reunited to produce two more lackluster albums, only to disappear into obscurity. Maybe it’s for the best. That way future generations might discover the unbridled joy when they first hear Neko Case wail on “Letter From an Occupant.”