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When The New Pornographers came together they seemed like they entirely fulfilled the idea of what a super group should be: big names collaborating, making big and brilliant music that accentuated each of their talents and simultaneously showed them in new lights. They were more than the sum of their parts. The New Pornos' first three albums are more or less flawless, and remain just as much fun to this day. From their fourth album, Challengers, things were a little different. On that album they slowed things down a lot, and whereas on their original trilogy of albums it seemed like fireworks every time Carl Newman and the gang got together, Challengers and the follow-up Together, seemed more like a grown-up gang, not so much living the fun times anymore, but getting together and trying to recreate them. The fun is still there, but the youthful sheen of originality seems to have been left in the past.

This has continued on to their sixth album Brill Bruisers. The gang still sounds good together, but their power pop stylings don't seem quite as effortless anymore. Of course, there is the big bang of the title track that opens the album, with an explosive, wordless chorus backed by a delightfully descending bassline - and this feels like the immediate surge of excitement at the moment of reunion of old friends. Then, they settle down and their middle-agedness starts to peak through. 'Champions Of Red Wine' is the second track on the album - it's not all night partying with cheap beer anymore. But, 'Champions Of Red Wine', sung by Neko Case, is a zippy little number with a catchy enough hook to keep you nodding along. Soon enough Dan Bejar comes along with cranky talk of 'War On The East Coast', before showing that his lascivious side is still intact in 'Born With A Sound' when he admits "I wanted you quite often, in that I wanted you all of the time," slipped into his typically cryptic and serious talk of "death in the bread line" and "death on the vine." 'Another Drug Deal Of The Heart' feels like the moment where someone pulls out a little spliff they may have rolled for the occasion; a short and fairly underwhelming moment, compared to the excitement of earlier years. 'Wide Eyes' is the sappy talk that comes after; "if you see no hope for me, I still see hope for you" goes the fairly plain chorus.

But there are still moments that absolutely sparkle. 'Backstairs' starts with a vocoded vocal hook, before booming into life in the fullest-sounding song on the album. It sounds like the first major moment of reminiscence of the night as Newman talks of days past ("before I knew to choose the music of celebrity..."). Gradually everyone else chimes in, adding their own little memories to spice up the story, until everyone's singing together in technicoloured brilliance. 'Dancehall Domine', propelled by simplistic chugging guitars through its catchy verse and nicely building bridge, then explodes into a joyous chorus of "I've got the floor," and it feels like the moment of the night when everyone's just about drunk enough to start dancing to some old classics. Penultimate track 'Hi-Rise' feels like the come down, a slightly slower track featuring spacey keyboards and atmospheric percussion, finds everyone gloriously harmonising in unison. And then the final track 'You Tell Me Where' is possibly the best track on the album, the final dance, arm in arm, the unspoken acknowledgement that they'll be friends forever, and the promise to do it again soon as they tail off with the repeated gang vocal "you tell me where, I'll be, I'll be there."

And, we'll be there too, listening along, even if it's years down the line. Because, even if they might not be able to quite recreate the same magic that they did on their early albums, The New Pornographers still behold a wealth of talent, and when it comes together just right - as it does a fair number of times on Brill Bruisers - the result is truly triumphant.

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