What a shame. Canada's indie darling 'supergroup' has gone and sucked all the life out of itself by making a record that really wasn't asking to be made. Sapping the energy from Neko Case must take some doing, but Challengers manages that feat, rendering AC Newman's songs only OK, Dan Bejar (of Destroyer 'fame') Michael Crawford-melodramatic and her own music curiously anodyne. Perhaps we have just had the best of this band, with the shockingly high energy pop that they were so happy to lay into, all hooks and electricity on Mass Romantic and Electric Version.
Twin Cinemas started the slide, and was a lot more 'grown up'. But, at the same time, a whole lot less interesting - the mood had gone, and with it any interest in AC Newman's songwriting. Which really isn't that great, unless it is engaging Neko Case's Peggy Lee vocal talents and kicking the bounce to 10. Challengers marks the timepoint at which you have to try to like the band - that shouldn't stop you seeking out their essential earlier albums.