Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Top 10 Albums of 2007 - #9: New Pornographers - Challengers

Why it's in the top 10: Much like the #10 album, this was highly anticipated, and the show they played in July at Pitchfork prior to it's release only served to whet my appetite. And much like Ted Leo, you know what you're going to get with New Pornographers: Melodic power pop, terrific hooks, a mix of high energy up-tempo tracks and the occasional ballad.

Why it's not rated higher: All the same caveats apply about this being a particularly crowded field and whatnot. When putting this list together, a main criterion was simply how much I listened to the album, which was especially difficult considering most of the albums listed came out in the span of about two months. Sometimes this one had a hard time cracking the rotation, though there were certain songs that got played over and over again (like Myriad Harbor).

While it's an excellent album, it's not the transcendent masterpiece of the type that populate the top of the list. For my taste, it tended to go a little too heavy on the ballads or slower numbers. I count at least five. It was lifted by some excellent Bejar, including Myriad Harbor, which may be one of his best NP tracks to date, and the Spirit of Giving, his NP foray into down-tempo numbers. Quite honestly, they could put out a full Bejar album and I'd be perfectly happy. For my tastes, he's my favorite NP composer, and I think he's at his best when he's writing his NP material (except for maybe Streethawk, which is my favorite Destroyer album).

Ultimately it fits in pretty well with the rest of the New Pornographers oeuvre. 20 years from now, it may be difficult to tell which album a given song comes from. They haven't exactly undergone a Beatles-like transformation over four albums. And there's nothing wrong with that. They keep producing great music, and this album is another in that line. Here's some live stuff: Myriad Harbor, Mutiny I Promised You, and My Rights Vs. Yours from David Letterman:

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