Album: Twin Cinema, 2005
Justification: And we’re back. I know, I should have killed it at #500 but there are just too many wonderful songs out there…
I know all the cool kids got into everyone’s favourite Canadian supergroup via The Electric Version, but this was the album that won me over. And this was the song on said album that did it.
This sounds like a diss, but it’s not meant to be: the thing that I love most about the New Pornographers isn’t the brilliant pop melodies, the flawless harmonies, the great arrangements, the top-notch songwriting (Carl Newman, Neko Case, Dan Bejar – I mean, these are A1 songspersons) or any of the other obvious qualities. What I love most is that I have no emotional investment in them, and sometimes I need music that neither resonates with significance nor gives me a tepid emotional pool in which to wallow.
See, the thing I love about, say, the Smiths or the Hold Steady or the Weakerthans is that, at heart, these are songs written by men who’ve gone through the same emotionally-shredding things I (and every other human being with questionable decision making abilities) has gone through. And sometimes that’s everything I need to hear, and other times it’s poison.
The New Pornographers, meanwhile, write glorious songs with vague narratives that I find hard to follow and glorious to lose myself within. The closest I’ve come to working out a proper scenario for any of Carl Newman’s songs is ‘Miracle Drug’ on his solo album The Slow Wonder, which I’ve decided is a short story based loosely around the writing of A Confederacy of Dunces – and that’s the deepest I’ve gone. What’s this about? I’ve got no idea, beyond that the protagonist has been “listening too long / to one song”. Which is a great, great refrain, and in no way allows me to dwell upon things that are better not dwelt upon.
There are times I want music that touches me at my very core and reminds me what it is to be human, and other times I want to keep floating up toward the surface where its sunny and warm, and away from the depths where the huge, terrifying things lurk. Glorious pop songs are necessary joys.
Oh, and one of my favourite (apocryphal) stories about how the band got their name was that a US evangelical preacher/convicted fraud Jimmy Swaggart had declared rock’n’roll “the new pornography”. Apparently that’s not true (Newman got it from a film, supposedly), but I choose to believe it anyway.
SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010: Wow: I have post-birthday downers like clockwork, if would appear. Bis were briefly the future of indie pop – and the second dawn of a relationship – with ‘Starbright Boy’.
SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2011: The Shins become an elegant metaphor for a failed marriage via ‘New Slang’.
AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…