The New Pornographers' brand of sophisticated indie pop has often been too shiny for my liking, but on their brilliant fifth album, they've not only bid adieu to the uncharacteristic mellowness found on 2007's Challengers, but have also dirtied up their guitars. The sprawling supergroup brings Sabbath power-chord heft to quasi-title-track Your Hands (Together), while fuzzy riffs propel opener Moves.
Additional might comes via horns by the Dap-Kings, a slippery guitar solo by Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent), pummelling drumming and untoppable lead vocal turns by frontman A.C. Newman, Kathryn Calder, the always cryptic Dan Bejar and Neko Case, who also delivers some of the best lyrics ("If I'm honest, you come to mind, but I'm not" on My Shepherd).
Produced by the band and Phil Palazzolo, Together is the flawless execution of can't-shake-loose melodies, genius arrangements (oh, those group harmonies!) and production that leaves you energized.
Top track: Your Hands (Together)
The New Pornographers play Sound Academy June 15.