Each new studio record from the Canadian indie pop band The New Pornographers is greeted with high expectations. It's a status they've earned, and that they maintain with their eighth album, "In the Morse Code of Brake Lights." That title, plus car and driving references throughout the record, contribute to the sense of a headlong rush through a lush and sophisticated set of songs.
Frontperson A.C. Newman wrote all eleven tracks, including one that was a co-write with Dan Bejar. Newman says that he didn't notice that his lyrics were so often "pointing toward car songs" until he had already written most of the album. He saw no reason to change anything, though, recognizing the value in a loose recurring theme. It suggests a concept album without really being one.
Newman excels at writing lyrics that are rich in detail and images, yet non-narrative. They sound great when sung by him, Neko Case, Kathryn Calder and the other contributing vocalists in the eight-piece band. All eight, along with an occasional string section, create the New Pornographers sound. It's a wonderful ride.