The New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers

by Jim Harris Rating:9 Release Date:2014-08-25

It’s odd to think of a supergroup coming of age, as most of these types of bands never quite reach any heights as good as the individual parts. But the New Pornographers, with Brill Bruisers, have come of age.

Make no mistake, AC Newman’s vision of NP has always been focused on striving to reach the perfect pop song while accommodating a couple of other songwriters who can bring it as well - Neko Case and Dan Bejar. Neko is perhaps the most popular of the three, with a successful solo career, and from my perspective Dan Bejar certainly brings the most eclectic and musically diverse option to the band.

Brill Bruisers might very well be as perfect a pop album as you’ll ever hear. If you’ve ever been to an NP concert, they all follow a similar pattern. Every song sounds almost identical to the studio version. Every member is stationed at their place on the stage, and when Newman or Bejar is singing, Neko is kicking people’s ass to level-out something, or up the volume, or down the volume, etc. 

I would suspect that from a musical perspective, Neko can be a bitch if you fuck things up. (I would suspect she is a tough date, as well. Don’t bring up the environment, open the door for her, or expect her to be anywhere but on top.)

But this band simply does not fuck things up, and their vision has been clear, starting with Challengers. While their previous albums to me were a tad experimental and fractured, and had Newman struggling to juggle all this creative energy and egos, on Challengers they knew what they wanted and how they should do it. If you have the pop sensibilities of AC Newman, a voice as angelic and pitch perfect as Neko (everybody wants her to sing on their album), and the multi-colored, gritty additions of a Dan Bejar, you come up with songs like ‘Go Places’ from Challengers, and on through to Brill Bruisers with such instant classics as ‘Backstairs’ and ‘War on the East Coast’.

These songs can be categorized as classic because they don’t leave you after a few listens. That’s what the best pop music does to you.

Brill Bruisers, by design, is unrelentingly up-tempo and energetic and, well, happy. With beach-ready synths and glorious transcendental harmonies, perfectly timed acoustic interludes (as with the opening title track), this is exactly what you would think is AC Newman’s vision for the band. Yes, there are small quibbles, like one too many tinkling 80s-synth intros, and the fact that there just is not a fucking out-of-place note to be found. The lyric to one song is “You tell me where to be, I’ll be there/ You tell me where to be, I’ll be there…”

AC Newman has got the reins on Brill Bruisers and each band member is where they should be. And this is their zenith. Let’s just hope they loosen-up in concert. Break a guitar, twerk, something.

Comments (7)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I want to believe you. I really do. Twin Cinema is one of my favourite indie pop albums, but nothing has approached it since. This one ?

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I'll give it a spin on rdio

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Well...I can't disagree with you there...I think Mr. Newman has them right where he wants them but I have to really think about if it's better than Twin Cinema.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Ok, I thought about it. No. This group continues to over-engineer a bit, I believe. Outside of Together, the other last three I find pretty solid.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Their songs take a while to ease into your subconscious. I'm liking it, but its not absolutely grabbing me yet. I like the new sound of Backstairs.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I agree, Backstairs is a cracker, with the best of the band.

There are no comments posted here yet
Related Articles
The New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab
Destroyer - Ken
  • 10/12/2017
  • By Ljubinko Zivkovic