Happy Monday, LemonWire readers. Our song of the day to kick off this week comes from the Canadian indie-pop supergroup, The New Pornographers. Today we’ll be looking at their song, “Play Money”, from their 2017 album, “Whiteout Conditions”,
Over the past few weeks, we’ve gotten a little off-track with our songs of the day, brushing up against soundtrack territory and ever more obscure pickings. So, to bring us back to our roots, this week we’ll start looking at songs according genre.
To keep things fresh and interesting, we won’t be letting one genre claim the whole week. Instead, we’ll try a little bit of genre hopping, and see how that goes.
But you didn’t come here to listen to me ramble on about organizational nonsense. So let’s get back to looking at our song of the day: “Play Money”.
The New Pornographers
The New Pornographers are a pretty unique band. Whether you judge that by their name, their style, or the individual successes of their members’ various side projects, there doesn’t seem to be another band like them. All that being said, I’m sure there are many bands that sound like them, or at least, try. But neither your or I have the time to spend scouring the internet for sound-a-likes or counter-bands to The New Pornographers. And why would you want to, when you can just listen to the real thing?
And yet, The New Pornographers are still a band, at the end of the day. Some people like their style, while others can’t stand it. But considering how different one New Pornographers song can sound from another, chances are good that most people can find something that strikes a chord with them (sorry). For some, it’s the acoustic, Neko Case ballad, while others prefer the hauntingly mad lyrics and delivery of Dan Bejar, or the power-pop with a slight lisp in A.C. Newman-led songs. And even though this description offers a lot of variety, it still doesn’t express everything you’ll get from The New Pornographers.
If the above rant didn’t convince you to start listening to this band, then maybe a closer look at just one of their songs will do the trick.
“Play Money” is the opening track to The New Pornographers’ 2017 album, “Whiteout Conditions. The band’s seventh album, coming three years after the release of “Brill Bruisers” (one of my personal favorites). An additional note, “Whiteout Conditions” was the first album by The New Pornographers to not include drummer Kurt Dahle, or Dan Bejar, who was working on a new Destroyer album at the same time. While their absence didn’t seem to make much of a dent in the album’s critical reception, there was a slight dip of its Metacritic ranking compared to that of “Brill Bruisers“.
For those already familiar with The New Pornographers, “Play Money” falls into the category of familiar but fun. It’s got all the elements of a typical New Pornographers’ song. Heavy pop beat, synths galore, socially-conscious, snarky, and repetitive lyrics, stellar harmonies, and a dash of the unexpected.
The lyrics to “Play Money” deal with (surprise) capitalism. While they’re a bit tongue in cheek, they’re also self-aware.
We don’t have enough time today to go over all of the lyrics, but we can touch on a few of the more interesting lines. The below verse comes in about halfway through the song.
“I beat the path of least resistance
Over the hills and out of wisdom
And just when I thought we beat the system
I knew a gentleman of leisure
He loved to talk about his treasure
And of how he got it for a song, song, song, song”
Both the phrase “out of wisdom”, as well as the last three lines seem to capture a feeling of guilt associated with the band’s success. The chorus, or pre-chorus, contains two lines where they continue to poke fun at capitalism, as well as themselves. “For a fee I’ll fight any foe / For a fee I’ll stop any show”.
To be perfectly honest, “Play Money” is not my favorite song by The New Pornographers, even if I’m just considering the songs on “Whiteout Conditions”. But even though it may not be my favorite, it’s still one I enjoy, and can get behind. Give me songs attacking capitalism, brimming with self-awareness, and throw in some well-placed harmonies, and I’ll be a happy man.
That about does it for our song of the day today. I hope you enjoyed listening to “Play Money”, by The New Pornographers. If you’re looking for a good follow up, try “Whiteout Conditions” or “Brill Bruisers”. Otherwise, we’ll see you later this week with more music to keep you going.