The New PornographersPower Pop Supergroup
Clever, tuneful pop masterminds.
When Carl Newman's underappreciated '90s power pop outfit Zumpano broke up, the singer-songwriter gathered several of his friends from the Vancouver indie scene into a new project. At the time, the term "supergroup" would have been little more than a tongue-in-cheek joke, but 2000's Mass Romantic was critically and commercially successful enough both to launch the New Pornographers as an ongoing project and to raise the profiles of the members' outside careers. (Every member of the band--barring keyboardist Blaine Thurier, a noted writer/director on the Canadian indie film scene--has another musical outlet, most notably singer Neko Case's high-profile solo career and singer-songwriter Dan Bejar's prolific main project Destroyer. Even Newman, who writes the majority of the band's songs, maintains a concurrent solo career under the name A.C. Newman.) Follow-ups Electric Version and Twin Cinema cemented the brash, poppy approach of the debut, complete with Thurier's inventive music videos and singles such as "The Laws Have Changed" and "Sing Me Spanish Techno" that marry singalong choruses to elliptical lyrics that Newman sometimes self-deprecatingly claimed were little more than interesting words strung together. Later albums Challengers and Together (dedicated to the late Lynn Calder, Newman's sister and mother of singer-keyboardist Kathryn Calder) are subtler and more emotionally resonant, but maintain the band's trademark clever pop hooks.