Sound & Vision: The New Pornographers on their new album In the Morse Code of Brake Lights

Sound and Vision
10/01/2019
Emily Fox
photo by Ebru Yildiz

KEXP's Sound & Vision airs every Saturday morning from 7-9 AM PT, featuring interviews, artistry, commentary, insight, and conversation to that tell broader stories through music, and illustrate why music and art matter. You can also hear more stories in the new Sound & Vision Podcast. New episodes are out every Tuesday. Subscribe now.


The New Pornographers are out with their eighth studio album, titled In The Morse Code of the Brake Lights (Concord). The album, which was written entirely by A.C. Newman, explores the former Canadian’s anxiety about living in the United States. Sound & Vision host Emily Fox spoke with Newman about a few of the songs on the album and the stories behind them.

On “You’ll Need a New Backseat Driver”:

It's sort of a love song about two people in this out-of-control vehicle which is the world and America in the present – just trying to paint a picture of people trying to maintain sanity and love and support each other in a situation when things are quite ugly.

On “Higher Beams”:

It comes back to being filled with an anxiety and fear over the state of the world. Like when you can't afford to leave or when you can't afford to move, it's like, well I guess we have to put up with each other because it's too expensive to get out of this. And of course, that taps into America – the comfort of America right now, where a majority of America is not happy. But a lot of people are just in their comfortable lives. They want a revolution, but they don't really want a revolution.

On “Colossus of Roads”:

The Colossus of Roads is one of the ancient wonders of the world. It was a massive statue that, you know, now it's gone. It's just legend. There's no record of it except that it once existed. And I thought, is that where is that where America's going? This once mighty unstoppable wonder of the world that maybe in one hundred years, people will barely even remember it.

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