Perpetual power-pop persuaders, the New Pornographers emerged from deepest Canada as a super collective side project obsessed with the prevailing sounds of another era. A decade later, the Pornos are critical darlings consistently turning out some of the smartest, most buoyant, heartily complex pop of any era. Carl Newman's songs strew references to a litany of pop predecessors as prolifically as Mets infielders drop pop flies—ELO, Bowie, Beach Boys, and obscurities infinitum. Meanwhile, alt-country princess Neko Case and new sidekick Kathryn Calder play pop sirens to the hilt. The genius behind Newman's (and fellow songwriter Dan Bejar's) pop forays is that they're far more peculiar than predictable, opting for the twists and tangents, however lushly melodic. That's even more the case on the new Challengers, which favors relatively dense eddies of eccentric pop craft over popsicle rushes. Opening will be former Delgados singer/guitarist Emma Pollock, whose solo debut, Watch the Fireworks, is a striking slab of shimmering, cerebral, mature pop. 18+.
Tue., Oct. 16, 7:30 p.m., 2007