Friday, November 25, 2005

Review: New Pornographers, Twin Cinema

Twin Cinema
I know I'm supposed to like this album... but I just don't. Sorry. Sure, it's cool and edgy and poppy and all that... but it gives me a colossal headache.

Twin Cinema is the third album by Vanouver-based super-group the New Pornographers, and while all the quirky pop touchstones of the first two are still here, this time they push just beyond the line they'd always carefully walked. The infectious hooks are still here, the delightful boy-girl harmonies, the complex intertwined guitars and keyboards, and so on... but the band has always gone a few steps beyond power-pop, never settling for 3 chords when they could use 8, always threatening to throw down a weird and unexpected bridge just when you were ready to sing along with the chorus. Unfortunately, while the formula has worked before, particularly on 2003's largely sublime Electric Version, it's stretched past the breaking point this time. The pop isn't catchy, the hooks don't hook; instead, songs seem needlessly complex and meandering. It's like early 70s Yes interpreting Matthew Sweet... you want to hum along, but you just can't figure out the tunes. Sure, I don't expect too many songs to rise to the level of "The Laws Have Changed," one of the greatest songs of the past decade, but is it too much to hope for just one or two songs with a simple chorus? But, hey, I don't want to knock these guys. They've got talent and cleverness and invention to burn, all of which are lacking in most run-of-the-mill indie pop bands, but by the time I got mid-way through this I was pulling the disc out of my stereo and reaching for the Advil. Of course, if you enjoy indie pop but wish someone would stretch the genre, the New Pornographers are still your band, but I'll stick with the first two albums myself.


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