In the glut of mediocre musicians and sound-alike bands, the existence of a group like the New Pornographers is refreshing. Comprised of nine members of Canada’s indie scene—including A.C. Newman, Neko Case and Destroyer’s Dan Bejar—the group celebrates a decade together with the release of their fourth album, Challengers. The album’s about as good as their fans would expect.
Armed with six vocalists and songs penned by Newman and Bejar, the Pornographers have once again crafted a captivating arrangement of sound. From the strong opening pair “My Rights Versus Yours” and “All The Old Showstoppers,” Challengers is a very rich listening experience. Newman and Bejar’s songwriting styles complement each other, providing a great deal of variety and
balance, utilizing the talents of the various group members to great effect. The result is that no two songs sound alike, even though “Challengers” and “Unguided” tease the listener with similar opening string arrangements before heading in different directions.
Ten years after recording “Letter from an Occupant,” the New Pornographers are still touring and recording music in addition to pursuing their own interests. Challengers is yet another in a line of albums that lure the listener in and unveil a sprawling sensory experience. It’s not a perfect album by any stretch of the imagination, but for fans of the genre or the band, Challengers is one of the finest albums of recent memory.