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<p>For fans of The New Pornographers’ base of frenetic power pop, Challengers may be an apt title. The sweet stomp of classic Porno tracks have largely given way to more contemplative tempos and time changes. Sometimes tame, the new arrangements are still impressive in their scope.</p>





New Pornographers

Album: Challengers

Label: Last Gang Records

Release date: Aug. 21

**** (out of 5)





For fans of The New Pornographers’ base of frenetic power pop, Challengers may be an apt title. The sweet stomp of classic Porno tracks have largely given way to more contemplative tempos and time changes. Sometimes tame, the new arrangements are still impressive in their scope. Touches of tremolo-guitar beats, dusty twang balladry, orchestral clap-alongs — and the grandiose string progression of All The Old Showstoppers are just a few examples of the band adeptly elongating hooks.





Thankfully it all remains safely short of awkward experimentation. If the challenge here is to appreciate a keen focus on nuance within new music crafted by a band of well-honed power pop savants, then most pop aficionados should enjoy this visit to Newpornland.











Bedouin Soundclash

Album: Street Gospels

Label: Dine Alone/Universal

Release date: Aug. 21

** 1/2





This sophomore offering from Bedouin Soundclash is at least as good as the group’s debut, Sounding A Mosaic. Whether that turns out to be a good thing or a bad thing will most likely depend on whether you are a fan or not.





Street Gospels seems to follow the same pattern as its predecessor — it starts off with some reggae-tinged toe-tappers, the best of the bunch being Until We Burn In The Sun and St. Andrews. However, it isn’t long before a repetitiveness sets in and it feels like the same songs are being done in only a slightly different manner. The bass line, in particular, feels like a carbon copy throughout.





For better or for worse, the band has compiled a feel-good album that will likely find a home on alt-rock radio.


 
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