Supergroups typically have short half-lives due to clashing egos, so Canada’s beloved supergroup The New Pornographers deserve kudos for turning 20 since their last studio album.
The newest release, In the Morse Code of Brake Lights (Concord Records) tries a few new wrinkles such as a piano and vocal solo from A. Carl Newman, but it also strives for high-harmony consistency. Dan Bejar of Destroyer seems to have made his leave of absence permanent, but Neko Case (OK, a Chicago native) and Kathryn Calder continue their trademark vocal interplay, while new member Simi Stone adds a violin element and additional high harmony.
There’s no denying the band has gotten softer and more EDM-influenced in their last three albums, yet their live shows remain as strident as a heavy-metal New Christy Minstrels. New tracks like “Colossus of Rhodes” and “You’ll Need a New Backseat Driver” fit this boisterous mode.