New Pornographers, New Album, Pure Happiness

Brill Bruisers Review

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If you are one of those people who checks out new music all the time, then you know the difference between “Okay, I’ll listen to this” and “I am going to listen to this.” The New Pornographers did it for me. Their brand new album, Brill Bruisers, makes me so happy I want to bake a pie for it. 

The album art features their name in thick black typeface with a tangle of rainbow neon lettering woven through it to spell out the title. It makes sense with the music, which is a lot of haphazard happiness twisting around sturdy rhythms and progressions. It seems like the New Pornographers just had fun with the whole thing from start to finish, even releasing a special edition with paint-splattered vinyl, 3D-glasses, and a 3D poster.

The Vancouver indie rock group dazzles with coming-of-age power lyrics set to constant motion and glittering melodies. The popular opening track, “Brill Bruisers” is a retro bubblegum pop song. You are instantly enveloped in a bright cadence, and the catchy “bo-ba-ba-bo”s stick like glue long afterwards. Listening to it feels like slinging a giant bag of candy over your shoulder and running down the street. This kind of exuberance is a fixture of every song, including fan favorites like “Champions of Red Wine,” “Fantasy Fools,” and “War on the East Coast.”

The lyrics are brimming with good vibes. One of my favorite tracks, “Wide Eyes,” includes thoughtful verses like “There’s years to planning and landing / To prepare for jumping the canyon / It’s not the death-defying, or cheering, / It’s the thrill of clearing, barely clearing.” Then the chorus declares buoyantly, “And if you see no hope for me, I still see hope for you.” It almost makes me wish this album had been released when I was 15. Not because it sounds immature, but because it might have been Catcher-in-the-Rye-impactful when I was growing up.

New Pornographers leader A.C. Newman called Brill Bruisers “a celebration record.” “After periods of difficulty, I am at a place where nothing in my life is dragging me down,” he said. “The music reflects that.”