The 7th album from Canadian powerpop musical collective, The New Pornographers, takes the listener on a journey through political and social commentary and introspection. Being an album about both big and small things is a tricky line to walk, but the sounds and rhythms carry the energy through the album making it sound fairly cohesive, even though the lyrics are fractured into different realms.
The album starts off with “Play Money”, a track about coming to a point in a musical career, when one plays for money,a nd not just the love of music making, even if this sometimes means making questionable decision based off of dollars. This can be seen in the lines of the pre-chorus, “For a fee I’ll right any wrong /For a fee I’ll right any wrong / For a fee I’ll fight any foe/ For a fee I’ll stop any show”. Other tracks on the album, like “Clockwise” and “We’ve Been Here Before” address the strange stage of releasing a 7th album, and taking into account band changes, such as the replacement of Kurt Dahle (vocalist and drummer) with new full-time member, Joe Seiders.
Another theme prominent through Whiteout Conditions is mental states. The title track is a key example of this, with the lyrics reflective of a depressive episode, “I wasn’t hoping for a win/ I was hoping for freedom/ You couldn’t beat ’em / So you crumbled, you doubled your dosage/ You wanna go, said the inhibitor blocking the passage /That thing is massive”. However, the song has a message of hope that is emulated in the happy synth and catchy beats in the background. “Second Sleep” explores insomnia, and “Colosseums” is another tune focused on mental feelings.
Before Whiteout Conditions was released, the track “High Ticket Attraction” was the first to be released. It is an electric political commentary. In an interview with Noisey, Carl Newman, guitarist and vocalist, said that this track is “completely about Trump panic”. Several other songs follow in this theme, commenting on the new president and how to deal with the politics currently in the country.
By: Bridget Lynch