New Pornographers Albums Ranked in Order of Awesomeness
In the 21st century, the New Pornographers are carrying the biggest and brightest torch for the ancient craft of power pop. Today we’re ranking the Canadian collective’s albums in order of awesomeness.
The band initially began as a side project for a bunch of musicians involved in the Vancouver scene, fronted by singer-guitarists Carl Newman and Dan Bejar, and including bassist John Collins, keyboardist Blaine Thurier and drummer Kurt Dahle, as well as featuring vocals from the lone American Neko Case (at that point, mostly known as an alt-country singer). When the Pornos’ debut album, 2000’s crunchy and melodic Mass Romantic, became an indie sensation, the group morphed into Newman’s main squeeze, with Bejar and Case fluttering in and out of touring obligations, depending on their other commitments.
In the early ’00s, the New Pornographers (semi-ironically called a supergroup) seemed to be constantly growing in confidence, popularity and even membership – keyboardist/vocalist Kathryn Calder (Newman’s niece) joined the group as a live replacement for Case, but quickly proved herself as a dynamic contributor in her own right. By mid-decade, and the release of Twin Cinema, the Pornos had become indie rock stalwarts, known for delivering solid, if inscrutable, songcraft that showcased a powerful drive and a majestic sweep.
Soon enough, the gang were augmenting their sound with strings and horns on both Challengers and Together, locating an equilibrium between ringing melodies, lurching guitars and swerving cellos. After a four-year spell between records, the group returned with a more synth-driven, new wavey sound on 2014’s Brill Bruisers. The band expanded on that aesthetic for 2017’s Whiteout Conditions, an album that also witnessed some big changes (the switch from Dahle to Joe Seiders on drums, the total absence of Bejar).
Closing in on two decades together, the New Pornographers have built a catalog containing some of the best pop-rock in the indie world. With a chorus of “hey la, hey la,” let’s countdown the band’s myriad successes.