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The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema
Matador Records, Released August 23, 2005
by Jeremy Sampson on Aug 26, 2005
Like any good pornographers, the New Pornographers follow a few simple rules to artistic success: hook 'em from the start, make sure the fun lasts as long as possible and, of course, capture the money shot. <i>Twin Cinema</i> does all three so well, the Canadian supergroup has achieved indie rock's version of a damn fine orgasm.
The New Pornographers' triumphant third album is a showcase for the insane talent that makes up its core -- it divides its time nicely between singer-songwriters Carl Newman (who wrote 9 of the 14 tracks), Dan Bejar and the stunning vocal stylings of Neko Case. The initial four songs are all Newman, who uses the Pornographers as another vehicle for his brilliant pop creations (as AC Newman, his solo album <i>The Slow Wonder</i> was one of 2004's best-reviewed albums). These gems are particularly melodically memorable --
filled as they are with Newman's hallmark hooks and tight harmonies -- beginning with the forceful title track which announces <i>Twin Cinema's</i> arrival authoritatively, and gliding along through "The Bleeding Heart Show", which shape-shifts from a slow anthemic melody to a hopeful choral sing-along mid-stream.
The high energy and power voltage never really subside -- even when the baton is passed to Bejar -- whose songs integrate better than they did on the Porno's previous work. Songs like "Jackie, Dressed in Cobras" fit nicely under Newman's up-tempo pop tune umbrella while holding onto Bejar's trademark nasal delivery and signature stamp of slightly bizarre theatrics. "Broken Beads" is also terrific, with a catchy "la la la" refrain and an almost showtune/commercial jingle flavor. On whole, the album maintains its boisterous and bouncy feel, despite visits to rock and ballad conventions. This is an improvement to previous outing <i>Electric Version</i>, a terrific album whose power pop punch nevertheless failed to feel eclectic enough.
Unfortunately, it's those very ballads that lead to <i>Twin Cinema's</i> only minor misstep. My favorite parts of the last two records involved Case belting out those divine joyful party tunes (think "All For Swinging You Around" and "The Laws Have Changed"). Here she's employed primarily as a mature songstress, and her two main contributions "The Bones of an Idol" and "These are the Fables", while beautifully composed and performed, just aren't as soaring and fun as they could be. Newman could capitalize more on her pure energy while he's got her in New Pornographers mold.
As for the money shot, it's a toss-up for best song between "Sing Me Spanish Techno" a beautiful and smart pop nugget that shows off Newman's masterful guidance of song structure and delivery, and "Use It", easily the album's most catchy and memorable tune -- a likely single that could propel the band to mainstream radiowaves.
Picking a favorite in this case, however, is an exercise best left to each listener; there isn't one song on here that really misses. And just like any good porn, the filler in between the good stuff is kept to a bare minimum. You'll never have to fast forward through <i>Twin Cinema's</i> plot.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
by Jeremy Sampson on Aug 26, 2005