WHO ARE THEY? The 20-year-old Vancouver indie supergroup (or collective, if you’re into the whole egalitarian thing) featuring guitarist and songwriter A.C. Newman, accompanied at various points by Neko Case, Kathryn Calder, John Collins, Todd Fancey, Joe Seiders, Simi Stone and Blaine Thurier — but still not MIA member Dan Bejar of Destroyer.
WHAT IS THIS? Their eighth collection of expertly crafted and immaculately rendered power-pop and indie-rock, the followup to 2017’s Whiteout Conditions and their second without the idiosyncratic Bejar.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? A little more unified than some previous efforts — mostly due to the fact that Newman wrote all 11 tunes on the album. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; lyrically and musically, he’s in fine form here, mixing typically clever songs about romance (and yes, enough car metaphors to justify that title) with more topical and political concerns.
WHAT WOULD BE A BETTER TITLE FOR THIS ALBUM? Auto-Eroticism.
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? In the car, naturally. Perhaps in the back seat. With a friend.
WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Ambitious, sugary, intelligent, sunny, manicured, controlled, layered quirky, melodic, poised.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? You’ll Need a New Backseat Driver, Higher Beams and Leather on the Seat drive the motor vehicle theme forward, but as usual, pretty much every track here could be a single.
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY? ‘This guy is never going to run out of songs, is he?’
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? About as often as you played their last few albums.
IF THIS ALBUM WERE A CAR, WHAT KIND OF CAR WOULD IT BE? Something sporty yet practical.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? Hey, somebody has to pay for porn.