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Twin Cinema
     

Twin Cinema

4.6 5
by The New Pornographers
 

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This Canuck aggregation has long been known for doling out heaping helpings of sugar and spice and everything nice -- thanks largely to a shared love of the airier moments in '60s rock. And while influences like the Zombies and Love are still easy to spot on this, the Pornographers' third long-player, there's a little

Overview

This Canuck aggregation has long been known for doling out heaping helpings of sugar and spice and everything nice -- thanks largely to a shared love of the airier moments in '60s rock. And while influences like the Zombies and Love are still easy to spot on this, the Pornographers' third long-player, there's a little more gristle, and quite a bit more spaciness, in evidence this time around. That's clear from the opening notes of the disc's title track, which -- with its inscrutable lyrics and angular guitar/keyboard fizz -- recalls nothing so much as a resuscitated version of late-'80s mad pop scientists the Loud Family. As ever, Twin Cinema is an all-hands-on-deck project, but even with several pairs of hands steering the ship, the S.S. New Porno stays on course. That's no mean feat, given the fact that the material is as far-flung as the Sondheim-via-Stones "These Are the Fables" -- one of several Neko Case–led throwdowns -- and the sweeping, brass-tinged "Stacked Crooked," a realization of what might happen if Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass were hijacked by David Gilmour, circa Atom Heart Mother. De facto leader A. C. Newman takes the lion's share of frontman duties, conjuring Swinging London images on "Sing Me Spanish Techno" and evoking vaudevillian showmanship on the woozy "Use It." But there's also plenty of room for Case and Dan Bejar (the driving force behind the Sparks-ish "Broken Breads") to peddle their melodic wares. Twin Cinema is one of those rare cases where too many cooks make the soup even tastier.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
When the New Pornographers released their first album, Mass Romantic, in 2000, they were a cult sensation, partially because they were comprised of cult sensations from Vancouver, chief among them Carl Newman of Zumpano, Dan Bejar of Destroyer, and alt-country singer/songwriter Neko Case. Not longer after that first album, Case started to earn some accolades on her own, thereby raising the group's profile, which meant that their second album, 2003's Electric Version, garnered more attention than their debut. But by that point, the band had its own word-of-mouth following, large enough to attract the attention of indie rock standard-bearer Matador, who not only released the New Pornographers' sophomore effort, but Newman's superb solo album The Slow Wonder in the summer of 2004. All this set the stage for the group's third album, Twin Cinema, which arrived in late summer 2005 to rather high expectations -- after all, they not only had two fine records underneath their belt, but The Slow Wonder was also well regarded (and earned some airtime on The OC to boot), so the time seemed ripe for a masterpiece from the New Pornographers. By that standard, Twin Cinema is a disappointment, since it does not constitute either a definitive statement or a great leap forward, but by nearly every other measure, it's a success. Like their previous two records, it's a bright, hooky record that sounds cheerful even when the tempos slow down and the melodies drift toward a minor key. It's sharp and tuneful, abundant in references to classic guitar pop yet never sounding beholden to the past, thanks to the lively, loose performances, a simple yet muscular production, and smart writing, usually from the pen of Newman. Although he writes ten of the 13 songs here (Bejar contributes the other three, including the insistent "Jackie, Dressed in Cobras" and "Broken Breads," which comes across like Syd Barrett fronting the Kinks or Robyn Hitchcock jamming with the Hoodoo Gurus, depending on your point of view), Newman has a different perspective when writing for the New Pornographers, composing within a specific framework that emphasizes the collective nature of the group, giving every member more or less equal time. And, as Twin Cinema proves, collective is a better word to describe the New Pornographers than band, since they have a friendly, casual vibe that sounds like the product of informal jam sessions. That's appealing, but it's also part of the reason that the New Pornographers can't quite deliver a masterpiece, or an album that's as strong and sustained as The Slow Wonder. Since all contributions are treated equally, the group doesn't have a distinctive personality or focal point outside of the tunefulness of the music itself. Which is not to say that the New Pornographers lack engaging singers -- Newman has a sweet everyman voice, perfect for power pop, and Neko Case is so gripping a singer that it's hard not to wish she took the lead more often -- but there's such an emphasis on never overemphasizing any specific member that the music winds up humble to a fault. Which is why the New Pornographers are more of an indie band than a power pop band: instead of trading in titanic hooks and glistening surfaces, they make deliberately small-scale, insular music that cuts its classicist nature with enigmatic, sometimes impenetrable lyrics and ragged performances. While that may keep the group from power pop greatness, there's no denying that they're charming in their modesty, which is what makes Twin Cinema an endearing listen, if not a flat-out knockout. Like the previous two New Pornographers albums, there are plenty of great tunes here -- including the hard-rocking, invigorating title track, the urgent "Use It," and the moody, meditative "These Are the Fables" -- that are reminiscent of classic '60s and '70s guitar pop without specifically sounding like any band in particular. The hooks and harmonies tumble out one after another, as the band plays with energy and enthusiasm that falls somewhat short of being truly exciting, yet the catchiness of the songs is a good compensation for that. All this adds up to a very enjoyable record, one that compares favorably to what the band has done before, even if its modest nature suggests that the New Pornographers have found their niche, and will continue to refine it instead of expand upon it. While that may disappoint some waiting for a masterpiece, there's no shame in mining the same ground as long as they make records as tight and tuneful as this.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/23/2005
Label:
Matador Records
UPC:
0744861062127
catalogNumber:
621
Rank:
60368

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

New Pornographers   Primary Artist
Neko Case   Vocals
Kurt Dahle   Percussion,Drums,Vocals
David Carswell   Vocals,Slide Guitar
Nora O'Connor   Vocals
Daniel Bejar   Synthesizer,Guitar,Vocals,Melodion
John Collins   Synthesizer,Bass,Guitar,Bass Guitar,Vocals,E-bow
Todd Fancey   Guitar
Blaine Thurier   Synthesizer
A.C. Newman   Synthesizer,Guitar,Harmonica,Vocals,Xylophone,Pump Organ,E-bow
Shaun Brodie   Trumpet
Kathryn Calder   Piano,Vocals
Tyr Jami   Cello
Todd MacDonald   Mandolin
Tyr Jami   Cello

Technical Credits

Kurt Dahle   Producer,Audio Production
David Carswell   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Howard Redekopp   Engineer
Daniel Bejar   Composer
John Collins   Composer,Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
A.C. Newman   Composer,Producer,Artwork,Audio Production
Sarah Pedersen   Artwork,Cover Photo
Amy Tuyn   Artwork

Customer Reviews

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Twin Cinema 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
the cd was ok but i expected a womans voice the entire time. the song "bones of an idol" is a very good song worth the price of the cd.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Definitely the best album that the New Pornographers have released. So many of the tracks are absolutely amazing on their own and the album works as a good listen too. The only problem is that the album is a bit top heavy, with most of the best tracks being in the first half.
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