The New Pornographers have been making music together for 17 years. The Canadian indie supergroup released their seventh studio album Whiteout Conditions, via Dine Alone Records, on Friday.
While it’s the first New Pornographers record to not feature Dan Bejar, there’s no shortage of perfectly executed pop from Carl Newman, Neko Case, and Co. In celebration of their new record, here’s a selection of 16 essential New Pornographers songs.
“Mass Romantic” – Mass Romantic
Track one from album No. 1 features Neko Case and Newman splitting vocal duties, setting the tone for the ensuing 17 years.
“Letter From an Occupant” – Mass Romantic
This Neko Case number effectively put The New Pornographers on the map way back in late-2000. “It’s got a big drum beat,” Newman told Pitchfork in a 2001 interview. “Female vocals. That’s all you need. That was the theory behind that song. Big drum beat, female vocals, people just dig it.”
“The Laws Have Changed” – Electric Version
Electric Version was a massive record for The New Pornographers in 2003. The title track landed a spot in the original Rock Band video game, while the “The Laws Have Changed” appeared on the soundtrack for Showtime’s Weeds and the band even performed it on Late Night with David Letterman.
“Testament To Youth In Verse” – Electric Version
One of Dan Bejar’s best sees the Destroyer frontman lead the band through an unforgettable vocal coda midway through the song.
“It’s Only Divine Right” – Electric Version
Power pop perfection.
“Use It” – Twin Cinema
The New Pornographers’ third record arrived in August of 2005 and would later be shortlisted for the inaugural Polaris Music Prize in 2006. “Use It” sees Newman treading in familiar pop territory and stands as one of his catchiest tunes.
“The Bleeding Heart Show” – Twin Cinema
Former drummer Kurt Dahle hits the skins hard in “The Bleeding Heart Show,” guiding this slow-building banger into a goosebump-raising finish as Case belts out “We have arrived too late to play the bleeding heart show.”
“Jackie, Dressed in Cobras” – Twin Cinema
Where many Bejar songs can seem like solo efforts, “Jackie, Dressed in Cobras” might be his most collective effort in the band’s entire catalogue.
“Myriad Harbour” – Challengers
Perhaps Bejar’s most playful song, “Myriad Harbour” also features a great video directed by Mark Lomond.
“Challengers” – Challengers
An essential Neko Case cut.
“All The Showstoppers” – Challengers
Always a crowd pleaser live.
“All The Things That Go To Make Heaven And Earth” – Challengers
The fifth song on Challengers would not sound out of place on Mass Romantic or Electric Version.
“Crash Years” – Together
A standout effort with Neko Case on vocals that sounds not too dissimilar from what we’ve come to expect from her solo work.
“Silver Jenny Dollar” – Together
Bejar’s songs on 2010’s Together feature excellently arranged vocal accompaniment from Case. “Silver Jenny Dollar” is the best of the bunch.
“Champions of Red Wine” – Brill Bruisers
Neko Case’s vocal efforts on Together, while great, were mostly utilized on the ballads. In a refreshing turn, Case took front and centre on one of the band’s breezier tunes for 2014’s Brill Bruisers.
“Dancehall Domine” – Brill Bruisers
The New Pornographers proved that their pop sensibilities aged very well with the third single from Brill Bruisers.
Watch The New Pornographers perform songs from Whiteout Conditions in a Black Box Session at Indie88 below.