Panel by Gerald McCann from Frogmen comic book #7, January 1953
#1 Together by the New Pornographers (Matador Records)
I'm lurching across the finish line here, almost completely out of gas when it comes to writing about music for the year. I feel like this year's best album, Together, deserves better than what I have to offer at this point - you may be best off just reading my original, over-the-top enthusiastic review of the record here.
I'll say a couple things about Together and how I feel about it today, though. My strong feelings about this record don't really have that much to do with where it stands in the New Pornographers' discography. I could make an argument that the songs on the record are a perfect distillation of what Carl Newman, Neko Case, Dan Bejar, and friends have been doing since day one, combining the frenetic, keyboard-heavy power-pop of Mass Romantic, the skewed anthems of Electric Version, the catchy eclecticism of Twin Cinema, and the smooth and emotive retro pop of Challengers. But that's not really what makes me love these songs so much.
The thing is, I've listened to Together a lot this year, possibly more than any other 2010 release. I saw the New Pornographers perform twice in 2010, and they were great both times. And - this may be the key to the whole thing - my three-year-old son loves Together, and I find that my feelings for the record are tied to my desire to make my kid happy. Together makes him happy, and it makes me happy. And I never tire of these songs - we sing along to them while running errands together in the car, and their endless joyfulness has become synonymous to me with the happiness that comes from being with my family.
So that's where I'm coming from, and I know that it's not a very helpful or objective basis for putting the New Pornographers at the top of my Best of 2010 list. The fact that I can listen to Together so much without hating it means the songs are just perfect pop compositions as far as I'm concerned, but I'm not going to stray from my reasoning here. For the place I'm at in my life right now, right down to the sentiment of its title, Together is the perfect record - it just makes me happy.
"Crash Years" by the New Pornographers