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The New Pornographers roll with the punches on Continue As A Guest

"Continue As A Guest"

Release date: 31 March 2023
The New Pornographers - Continue As Guest cover
29 March 2023, 09:00 Written by Craig Howieson

Our lives can roll past in the blink of an eye, a problem compounded by age and ever increasing demands on our time.

We long for the days we had in our youth, the opportunity to squander hours on...well nothing in particular. Perhaps it is this universal acceptance which makes a band like The New Pornographers all the more refreshing.

20 years into their career, the group still feel like they are in perpetual motion, surging forward unperturbed by the passing of time or by what has come before. Ninth album Continue As A Guest does not find bandleader A.C. Newman along with Neko Case, Kathryn Calder, John Collins, Todd Fancey, and Joe Seiders retiring to bed with nothing but a candle flame to guide them. They are swinging from the chandeliers.

Their latest outing, and first since signing for Merge – now a mecca for bands on a late-career hot streak as recent releases from Archers of Loaf, the Mountain Goats and Fucked Up will attest – is pure baroque 'n' roll goodness. And while the themes of insecurity, poor judgement and fraught nights spent deep down online wormholes may be playing on Newman’s mind, his band's response is not to lean into the temptation to wallow, but to deliver a sonic blast to the senses in preparation for a new day.

The opening track “Really Really Right” has a communal elation as a twinkling synth line scatters over surging guitars. The song was co-written with Dan Bejar (Destroyer) and dates back to 2014, but even after 9 years on a shelf it has lost none of its lustre. “Firework in the Falling Snow” – another co-write with Sadie Dupuis (Speedy Ortiz) is a slow waltz at the alt-rock disco while “Marie and the Undersea” is a flurry of percussion and billowing folk. And all come together as diverse but perfectly matched shapes of a ten-piece puzzle.

Yes, life passes quickly. And getting older can make it harder to face the inevitability of time. But that is no reason to stop going out and seizing the day. The New Pornographers appreciate life doesn’t get any longer if you slow down and let it catch up with you. The secret lies in soaking up every opportunity, and in their case rolling onwards, sweeping their troubles into moments of connection and finding beauty in music and the hope of a chance to do it all again tomorrow.

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