Song 155: The New Pornographers, “Moves” (2010)


The first time I heard “Moves,” I loved it within its first few seconds. As soon as the keyboards marched in lockstep with that low, chugging cello, I knew I was a fan. The two parts are like gears in a watch, clicking away.

I’ve loved the New Pornographers ever since my friend Julie slipped me a copy of Electric Version. I was immediately drawn to it, because it was power pop, but it was far from the generic, power chords-and-handclaps kind of sound that the term usually applies to. For one, the New Pornographers’ songs usually have a few unexpectedly dissonant moments: sometimes literally so, like that minor seventh (after Carl Newman sings “These things get louder”) that sticks out like a stubbed toe (or the haunting minor seventh sung by Newman as a long “oooooh” during the later choruses of “All the Old Showstoppers”). Sometimes, it’s more of a tonal dissonance, like the bouncy pop song called “The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism” (you can’t get a more dissonant combination than that).

The New Pornographers are also interesting because they started as a one-off “supergroup” who stumbled upon critical and (for an indie band) commercial success. Seeing them live, especially with the full lineup, is something like witnessing a family reunion: here we are again, after hanging out and traveling with our immediate families. Each member brings his or her own personality to the proceedings (Newman is the wry commander; Neko Case is the consummate show-woman, belting out her verses like a Broadway star; Dan Bejar is the daffy (though focused and insanely creative) wild card.

The video below was directed by Tom Scharpling, who also made Aimee Mann’s “Labrador” video. Like “Labrador,” it’s sublimely bonkers.


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