Sunday, December 30, 2007
Album of The Year, #1A
1A. New Pornographers- Challengers
Yet another underrated gem. For some reason hooky, pop music is not cool with most critics- this is why ELO is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They seem to think that is easy to create. Last year, every critic loved the Format's Dog Problems, yet none put it near the top of their list. This year we see a similar phenomena. Challengers has been universally praised, but not remembered- probably due to the fact it is not a "serious" artistic statement.
This is a resplendent jewel, equal to anything putout by serious artistes, and better than anything ever released by critical stalwarts such as Ryan Adams or Iron and Wine. It is just different. There is almost too much talent in this band, with 3 great songwriters and 4 wonderful vocalists. In the past, the sum has not equaled the talent of the individual musicians. However, Newman (the de facto leader) has stepped back just a bit to allow the other lights to shine, especially on the grand Myriad Harbor- unlike any hit you have ever heard, and irresistible.
In fact, this album is so good, I would put the first 4 songs up against the first 4 singles on any album of the past 25 years, including Thriller (Baby, Be Mine is weak) and Like a Virgin (weak track 4). While the album cannot sustain such a powerful opening for its entirety, it may be equal to the Cars first album (a masterpiece)- I will tell you in a few years.
Just listen to this album, especially Your Rights Verses Mine, Challengers and Old Showstoppers (along with MH) and tell me confectionery sugar is not as good as serious art.*
* yes, I have 2 number 1 albums this year. Why? Because I think we have 2 potential classics released this year and you cannot compare them, unless you are saying the are both Canadian. One is pop. One is transcendent and serious art. They both need to be seen and taken seriously on their own merits.