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“The New Pornographers: The Big-Drum Bullies That They Always Were”

I was thinking of crazy times out in Colorado recently, high on a lot of substances, and “The Fake Headlines” came to mind, rushing around in a car like everybody else, trying to get ahead of everybody else, like everybody else. I didn’t even think of Electric Version or Twin Cinema. I’ve been on a Challengers kick lately.

Let me preface this section by saying that I greatly respect Rob Mitchum of pitchfork for his work of The New Pornographers, Ted Leo and Sleater-Kinney’s slightly-overrated but gravitational One Beat. In missing the boat on Challengers, though, an album generally granted celestial critical acclaim in ’07, he begins the review with the words “In interviews.” To me, this is like multiplying the whole thing by zero. It’s like commercials that say they’re helping the homeless, and then they mention the word “money”. No, that’s not the way it works, that’s not the way transfer of energy between human beings works. Sometime in 2007 I had an incredibly eerie dream wherein the backdrop was completely placid, blank and white, and there were just two short, frumpy little male human beings. They saw each other and seemed to meditate for a moment, regarding the whole spectrum of life’s implications, and then they slowly approached each other, and, with full premeditation and deliberation, one of them hauled off and lowered a fist as hard as he could down onto the skull of the other. Folks, we need indie pop.

I thought Challengers was good. Then, I thought I might see through “Failsafe”. Then, I put it on, and the first thing that hit me were the petulant, deafening drums, producer Phil Palazzolo.

Before this, I was listening to the Incubus song “Warning”. Bear with me, I have a point here. At least it wasn’t “Dig”. I thought I’d see through Incubus, too, but it’s more that I just heard Brandon Boyd’s voice, and thereby rekindled the desire to make fun of them, but that guitarist could produce some nutty sounds, that fill in the voids, the way Kurt Dahle’s clobbering does.

What do Sponge’s “Sixteen Candles”, Spacehog’s “In the Meantime”, Supergrass’ “Time” and Mike Doughty’s “American Car” have in common? The same thing The Porno’s “Failsafe” steals from “Warning”: a timeless, archetypal strain of pop genius that wouldn’t leave our hearts in the wake of a fumigation. Short of getting all theoretical here, mentioning intervals and note nomenclature, I’ll just suggest the irony of this: not only are the drums of the little indie darling Pornos bigger than those of Incubus, but Kurt Dahle looks like he drinks more beer, too, and has more fun. But he doesn’t live in LA, so we shouldn’t be too hard on Brandon Boyd.

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