Todd Fancey’s vocals have been heard by millions, as the multi-instrumentalist for the New Pornographers and as the balladeer behind “That One Night,” the song that’s central to what is arguably the most cringe episode of “The Office,” 2008’s “Dinner Party.” 

The hilarious, earnestly yearning delivery isn’t all that true to Fancey’s artistry, though his new album, “Star Dreams” (out today), nods to the year 1980, which also saw the release of Benny Mardones’ “Into the Night,” a Yacht Rock classic not dissimilar in sentiment.  

The 10-track album under the banner Fancey was co-produced by Vancouver music veteran Allan Rodger and sports contributions from vocalist Micae and New Pornographers drummer Joe Seiders, who traded his sticks for the Yamaha DX-7 electric piano/synthesizer. That instrument’s preset sounds found their way into some of the ‘80s biggest songs by Whitney Houston, Kenny Loggins and Luther Vandross, a vibe enhanced on “Star Dreams” by the use of the Korg Poly synth and the Oberheim drum machine.

“This album probably still sounds ‘70s-ish because I can’t really help myself,” Fancey confesses to Variety. “I was thinking about that golden year of 1980. It’s fascinating to me, the changeover from the ‘70s to the ‘80s. It was so fast, in a way. Like, good luck finding Adidas’ Roms in 1980. Stan Smith — where’d the stripes go? The wide legs, see you later. But then some of the music, like Air Supply, it’s the bridge in between the two decades — something nice to listen to, which was totally the opposite of the punk from the mid ‘70s. It’s crazy what they were up against. They hated the stuff I love listening to (laughs).”

Micae’s vocals drive the album’s wistful feel, from the Pretenders-ish opener “Out on the Streets” to the school dance-worthy “Across the Stage.” Reaching back into the archives, closer “The Best” is based on lyrics Fancey wrote as a teenager when he was in a band called Kill with his cousin (“Kill, because, we were trying to be like Kiss,” he says).

“I’d given Micae MP3s of my guide vocals, and I thought she was going to sing them an octave higher,” Fancey says. “She wound up singing them an octave lower, and I loved how they sounded. It was kind of a revelation to hire and use singers and feel like I actually wanted to listen to the finished product. It wasn’t like, OK, I just have to get this done by putting vocals on it.”

Fancey says Seider’s contributions were the “icing” at the end of the sessions that “really ‘80s’ed everything up. We were in Australia just before the pandemic, and he just sat down at a piano and played Billy Joel perfectly. I was like, what? Can you please play keyboard on my album? We kind of wanted a marriage between the mid ‘80s soul of Debarge and Atlantic Starr. It’s tricky with a DX7. You’ll get some accusations about it being cheesy, but I like the sound of it.”

When Fancey first started up in the early 2000s, the group played a few live shows, but since then, the focus has mostly been on the recordings. “Even though I’m in the New Pornographers and love doing it, I don’t know how much of a ‘performer’ I actually am,” Fancey says, half-jokingly chalking it up to the dearth of concerts that came through Halifax when he was growing up. “On my other records, I sang on a lot of the songs. But with this one, we’re thinking about playing live because Micae is into that.”

In the meantime, The New Pornographers have wrapped work on the follow-up to 2019’s “In the Morse Code of Brake Lights,” which will be released next year. “I did my guitar parts for it in the worst part of the pandemic at home, and it was the most uplifting experience, which was so needed,” Fancey says. “I had so much fun with it and going back and forth with [group member] Carl [Newman] over email in a way we hadn’t really done before.”

Fancey also continues to receive love from “The Office” fan community thanks to “That One Night.” Fancey got the gig through his friend Alicen Schneider, a New Pornographers fan who also happened to be a creative executive at NBC, during a sushi dinner in Vancouver.

“I told her I loved the British version of ‘The Office,’ but that I thought the American one would suck,” Fancey recalls. “In spite of that, I was put into the running for the song, and I was desperate to get it. It was a bit of a nightmare because the writers went on strike, and there was a long wait.”

Although it’s never explicitly stated, the song implies that the character of Jan Levinson (Melora Hardin) had previously seduced her assistant Hunter into losing his virginity to her (“You took me by the hand / Made me a man / That one night / You made everything alright”). The episode ends with Levinson and live-in boyfriend Michael Scott (Steve Carell) in a domestic dispute after they and their guests have waited hours for Levinson’s osso buco dinner to finish cooking, while Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Jim (John Krasinski) abscond with the CD containing the song as a respite from the insanity of the gathering they’ve just attended.

“Maybe it’s just a fluke on my part to have been part of it,” Fancey says when asked why he thinks the song continues to have such comedic appeal. “I don’t watch the episode that often because I don’t really want to hear myself sing like an amateur, which is what they told me to do. There’s a more of a polished version where I sing a little better. The word ‘awkward’ comes up with this show often, so it might have been a bit of an awkwardness touchstone on television. It’s also just really, really funny, when you learn more about these characters. I still get an email or two about it every month. Hey, I’ll take it. It might be my claim to fame.”