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The New Pornographers - Continue as a Guest (Album Review)

Tuesday, 04 April 2023 Written by Graeme Marsh

Yet again, like so many works currently being wheeled out, the New Pornographers’ ninth studio album was shaped by the pandemic. Bearing traits of isolation and the unsettling restrictions of being limited to seeing just a handful of people within your bubble, ‘Continue as a Guest’ was mostly moulded at a distance. 

However, unlike so many of their peers, that mode of working is not unusual for this collective, which originally hailed from Vancouver, Canada. With its members now strewn across various parts of North America, logistics had become increasingly difficult to manage anyway.

In fact, it was unusual that bandleader Carl Newman had so much access to one of his key creative foils in the form of vocalist Neko Case.

The two were in one another’s bubble, and were able to collaborate relatively closely, with the remainder of the record pieced together remotely to fit Newman’s overarching vision. 

Opener and single Really Really Light was co-written by Destroyer’s Dan Bejar, who’s been in and out of the band for years, and is blessed with their trademark quirkiness, particularly its dual vocals that don’t quite meld together. It is irresistibly catchy and boasts a neat synergy between its slightly off-beam musicality and its lyrics. 

But the singles—with Angelcover and Pontius Pilate’s Home Movies among them—are not necessarily the moments that will make you sit up and take notice. Bottle Episodes is addictive in its off-kilter staging and welcome sax, which also lights up the title track. With its lurching electronic backbone it is perhaps the biggest departure from their usual output, but is also quite possibly the pick of the bunch here.

It’s incredibly difficult to find many flaws with the vast majority of the New Pornographers’ albums and this is no exception—the level of consistency is staggering. It doesn’t necessarily stand out amongst its peers, though, and is content to fit in snugly into their catalogue. If ‘more of the same’ is what you hoped for, then this will hit the spot.


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