Once a group of Canadian unknowns masquerading as a supergroup, the New Pornographers are no longer entirely Canadian or unknown, and neither are they the same cavalier bunch who redefined left-field power pop for the Naughts. Together, the group’s fifth record, is explosive and infectious yet tight and glossy, a far cry from the proverbial seat-of-the-pants audacity of their 2000 debut, Mass Romantic.
The cello-enhanced “Moves” and “We End Up Together” resurrect the riffage lost on their previous album, Challengers; “Valkyrie in the Roller Disco” does the frugal-ballad thing without meandering too much. Head Pornographer A.C. Newman has moved beyond what he’s called his “boneheaded Ramones-like” songs; he now plots his zigzag impulses into affecting theatricalities (“My Shepherd,” passionately delivered by Neko Case) and wind-through-the-hair pop wisps (“Crash Years”).
Even Dan Bejar, the Pornos’ loose-cannon songwriter, delivers a trio of coherent songs, the best of which, “Silver Jenny Dollar,” is wonderfully bereft of prickliness. “Your Hands (Together)” returns to Newman’s cubist pop past, pasting together an interrupted Sabbath riff, stuttering Who vocals, and a stampeding B section — and though the New Pornographers would have once made this sort of thing sound like a stray lightning bolt, it remains enjoyable as a flash of premeditated light.
THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS + THE DODOS | House of Blues, 15 Lansdowne St, Boston | June 18 @ 8 pm | All ages | $25-$35 | 888.693.BLUE or hob.com