The third album from Vancouver's pop maestros continues to feature Neko Case and Dan Bejar (Destroyer), as well as new vocalists Kathryn Calder and Nora O'Connor. These songs veer more toward the rocking and the personal t... more »han the sugar of earlier works. Chief singer/songwriter A.C. Newman has absorbed not just the mechanics of classic songwriting, but the heart, while indulging his admiration of demented current bands like Fiery Furnaces and Frog Eyes. Expect to hear influences from The Moody Blues, Tubeway Army, Wings, Eno, The Stranglers, 10cc, and other greats, all filtered through Newman's warped worldview.« less
The third album from Vancouver's pop maestros continues to feature Neko Case and Dan Bejar (Destroyer), as well as new vocalists Kathryn Calder and Nora O'Connor. These songs veer more toward the rocking and the personal than the sugar of earlier works. Chief singer/songwriter A.C. Newman has absorbed not just the mechanics of classic songwriting, but the heart, while indulging his admiration of demented current bands like Fiery Furnaces and Frog Eyes. Expect to hear influences from The Moody Blues, Tubeway Army, Wings, Eno, The Stranglers, 10cc, and other greats, all filtered through Newman's warped worldview.
"I'm sorry. Those who see a fall off in this album are simply out of their gourd. This is an absolutely fabulous album by one of rock's more unusual groups and one of the finest releases of 2005. The group is unusual in being more or less an assembled supergroup of people from established bands. One of the main members, Neko Case, has a highly successful solo career on her own. Rarely do bands formed in this manner result in the group staying together for very long, yet the Pornographers have managed three excellent albums in five years, quite an achievement.
One is tempted to say that this album is so superb simply because everyone in it is so talented and the songs are all great, and while that is certainly true the history of rock has shown that great talent hasn't always resulted in great music. For whatever reason, these guys have managed to assemble talent that meshes marvelously, with each member willing to step aside a bit for the good of the group. The level of musicianship on this album is exceptional and it is truly a delight listening to people who are all so very good at what they do playing such a great set of songs. If I had a complaint with the album it is that Neko Case doesn't just take over fulltime as lead vocalist. Mind you, Carl Newman, the band's main songwriter, is a very decent vocalist, but Neko Case is a great vocalist. Though he does every song he sings a service, he rarely stands out; Ms. Case does.
Though the band possesses a world of talent, this would count for little if you didn't have great songs to work with. Luckily, these are first rate songs. I can honestly say that there isn't a weak cut on the album, while there are several cuts that are simply outstanding. The title cut is especially compelling, with a marvelous upbeat drive interrupted with some wonderfully dissonate guitars propelled by a strong rhythm section. It moves immediately into the more delicate "The Bones of an Idol," with a typically strong vocal by Neko Case. The next cut, "Use It," might be my favorite on the disc. Though the New Porgraphers rarely remind me of specific bands in their songs, "Use It" reminds me a lot of the Plimsouls, though that might just be the result of sleep deprivation. Another outstanding cut is "Jackie, Dressed in Cobras," one of the few cuts not written by Newman. I also really liked another song sung by Neko Case, "These are the Fables." I could go on, but I'll merely reiterate that I don't dislike a single cut on the album, while I was blown away by several.
Again, I don't know what makes some people complain about a new album by a celebrated band. Is there some inner need to diss some new release? Is there disappointment that it doesn't sound like a clone of previous albums? I really am not sure, but I can adamantly assert that his is a brilliant and immensely enjoyable album. I can't imagine anyone whose principle concern in acquiring an album the enjoyment of great music not being blown away by this. And for those complaining about it, listen to it again! If you aren't stunned by this album, the fault isn't the music."
Best of 2005: Highly enjoyable and diverse
Manny Hernandez | Bay Area, CA | 11/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Twin Cinema" eventually takes over your full attention span with the beautiful vocal work and the diversity of their music from track to track. "The Bones of an idol", "The Bleeding Heart Show" and "These are the Fables" are testimony of the extraordinary work of this fascinating Canadian ensemble do (what are they doing to the water north of the border these days?) Without going as full fledge into experimental territory as their Montreal counterparts, Broken Social Scene, they still get a lot accomplished (actually, they sound a bit like BSS' sister band Stars, once in a while), making this album one of the best ones to have been released in 2005."
New Pornographers step up!
Christopher J. Benz | Melbourne, Australia | 10/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've had nearly 6 months with this record now and am convinced that it is the New Pornographer's masterpiece, though I believe (and hope) that the best is still yet to come.
This album departs from the previous album 'Electric Version's overall veneer of hook laden, sunny, formulaic pop (as addictive as it was) and steps up with a startling array of musical shades. The album offers up endlessly exquisite examples of alt-pop, rock, country, underground, prog rock and experimental compositions. Somehow, it also makes sense as a whole.
It's been said many times, but this band has the greatest musical chops currently on offer. Their virtuoso stylings at times show them pushing beyond the limits of expectation. Simple treatments of the songs would be just too boring, given the technical abilities of everyone involved. The important thing is it's joyous in a twisted kind of way, and every part of the production is there because it needs to be there.
On this album you will find a few instant winners (for me it was Use It, The Bones of an Idol and These are the Fables) but after you've played them to death, the other tracks will one by one start to reveal themselves - my current favourites are Jackie, Dressed in Cobras, Streets of Fire, Stacked Crooked and Broken Beads. Honestly, there isn't a dud here.
The innovative production here is so organic to A C Newman and Dan Bajar's brilliant song writing that it almost goes unnoticed. The songs are fully developed and often, cross and counter melodies begin to emerge as you get to know the songs better. Check out the sudden stomping rhythm at the end of Stacked Crooked that develops into a chorus chant. Earlier, a faux-Arabic lilting vocal breaks unexpectedly in the same tune. The most glorious moments could be the sudden time shifts and beautiful piano runs in Jackie, Dressed in Cobras. The lyrics seem equally random and incisive "On a train devouring the land, there's a kid going insane over her man, insane over her man, insane over her...".
`Use It' is a post sixties, darkly decorated shuffle, that takes off like a rocket. Newman's vocal has never sounded cooler than on this track.
On `These are the Fables', Neko Case, just the cream on top of all the other brilliance on this album, sings with perfect composure. Her work on Bones of an Idol is deceptively effortless.
So many things are right about this record - experimental and melodic, enigmatic and confident, it's endlessly enjoyable and fascinating. I can hardly wait to hear what they come up with next."
A charming success
edwin | Stanford, CA | 08/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although I am generally a very upbeat person, I've realized most of my music is rather gloomy. Positive, upbeat music always seems to fall into one of two categories - either trite and meaningless or overdone and gaudy. I have listened to and enjoyed The New Porographers's first two albums for some time, seeing them as pleasant exceptions, but nothing about them was especially earthshattering or moving.
This album, however, is not only devoid of filler, the songs form a cohesive album in a way I never thought pop like this could. This is a great album any way you measure it - every song is full of several catchy melodies that mean even more together, and the same is true of each song - they mean so much more together than apart. If I wasn't hooked by the completely original sound of the opener, the anthemic refrain of the second half of "The Bleeding Heart Show" did it. Every time after I play this album, I want to do it all over again.
The many layers make this album perfect in so many possible situations - lyrics and song structure that are great for careful listening, but choruses and melodies that make it just right to add to the ambience of a party. I know this one will get a lot more plays."
depthfunction | St. Louis, Missouri USA | 08/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had to listen to this album a couple of times before it really clicked with me, but it did and I now consider it to be at least the equal of Mass Romantic and The Electric Version.
Like those two albums (and A.C. Newman's solo album The Slow Wonder), Twin Cinema is packed with songs that are absolute pop perfection. "Three or Four", "Sing Me Spanish Techno", "Twin Cinema", "Broken Breads" and the last two minutes of "The Bleeding Heart Show" are all absolutely gorgeous songs, catchy and fun.
And then there's "The Jessica Numbers". I can't get enough of it. I think it may well be my personal pick for Song of the Year.
Pound for pound, The New Pornographers might just be the most talented group of musicians performing today. Buy this CD and enjoy!"