Craig Hatkoff, Jane Rosenthal

The opening track, "My Right Versus Yours," may sound like the same old New Pornographers, but the group's fourth album quickly reveals its larger ambitions.

The opening track, “My Right Versus Yours,” may sound like the same old New Pornographers, but the group’s fourth album quickly reveals its larger ambitions.

The band’s famous part-timers Neko Case (stellar on the slow-burning twangy title track) and Destroyer’s Dan Bejar (highlighting the quirky “Myriad Harbour”) are present and accounted for, but the bulk of the work still falls on de facto bandleader Carl Newman, who continues to display his knack for catchy hooks and classic boy-girl harmonies (the femme parts split between Case and relative newcomer Kathryn Calder). The rocking new wave ditty “All the Things That Go to Make Heaven and Earth” and the sublime “Go Places” approach the simple splendors of the group’s first two albums, but much of “Challengers” is slick and over-produced, more in line with their 2005 effort “Twin Cinema.”

New Pornographers - 'Challengers'

Matador Records
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