With Destroyer (aka Dan Bejar, usually a
nontouring NP member) and Immaculate
New Pornographers leader A.C. Newman didn't discover that Jimmy Swaggart had written a book titled Music: The New Pornography until after he'd thought of the name. That same auspicious fortune is partly responsible for the band's still being around at all. Newman assembled the players on a lark in 1997, and everyone in the band had first-tier careers already in progress. The silly "supergroup" tag that people often bestow upon this Vancouver, British Columbia, band is prompted in part by the presence of Neko Case, whose haunted country drawl complements Newman's natural affinity for pop. If that makes 'em a supergroup, so be it, but really it's Newman's unlimited store of catchy hooks and smooth arrangements that sets this band apart. The guy is simply a songwriting machine. But unlike contemporaries Bob Pollard, Rivers Cuomo or Stephen Malkmus, his work doesn't come across as labored or self-consciously obsessive about its own creation. In fact, just when you find yourself thinking about music too much, a few ooh-oohs and tambourine shakes and Ric Ocasek-inspired keyboard lines invariably come in and set you straight.