However, Twin Cinema and every other New Pornographers album ever recorded rides on the brilliance of the group as a collective. It's the way that every arrangement and lyric and every drumbeat, every bassline and every "doo-wop" chorus falls in place with such precision that you cannot imagine each contributor as being an individual.
On 'Sing Me Spanish Techno' which is my favourite track song on the album, Carl Newman and Neko Case sing in a pirouette of hazy pop reminiscent of sunny days when you could still get an ice-cream for a quarter.
Then there are songs like 'The Bleeding Heart Show' that bring you on an unpredictable ride, blending laid-back acoustics with intense melodies, complimented wonderfully by Neko Case's soothing sweet harmonies. It's like walking through a dark sonic tunnel and then seeing a beautiful light at the end of it.
While 'Mass Romantic' sounded like a care-free hippie romp, 'Twin Cinema' comes across as a thoughtful, almost insightful album that reflects the amount of effort, time and energy it has taken to get it recorded.
Twin Cinema is an album that you know you can put on repeatedly and still find hidden gems slotted in between amusing lyrics, rousing choruses and all round greatly written pop music everytime.
Neko plays a much more important role in 'Twin Cinema', meeting Newman's vocals with equal strength in 'Use It', 'Three or Four' and 'Star Bodies', and taking full control in 'The Bones of An Idol' and 'These Are The Fables'. 'Fables' is a landmark and a marvel in 'The New Pornographers' catalogue, which, if nothing else, brings the band into perfect balance.
Bejar also makes a courageous comeback in the folky 'Streets of Fire' (a song crying out for a dusty open mike night in Vancouver), and his personal sequel to 'Jackie', now 'Dressed in Cobras' singing "look who's seen this kind of thing before".
Simultaneouly, Newman's flair for rocky riffs is still in full swing, eagerly introducing the album by it's title track, holding true in 'Use It', the White Stripes-esque 'The Jessica Numbers', and flourishing in the record's centrepiece 'Sing Me Spanish Techno'.
As many reviewers have been saying, 'Spanish Techno's chorus is one to look out for. Personally I could listen to it on loop for years, and I only hope that Newman and the gang drag themselves across the pond to hear it live.
The first few tracks on new album Twin Cinema certainly demonstrate the similarities between the bands, and are coincidentally probably the weakest on this release. As track four, 'The Bleeding Heart Show', begins, it seems quite bland and unprepossessing. Nothing prepares you for the sudden shift in tone, breaking into a magnificent beast of a chorus, which comes across like a fight between The Corrs and Steeleye Span. By now they will definitely have your attention.
The rest of the album is a reflection of some very diverse musical tastes. There are traces of The Pixies, Super Furry Animals, Pere Ubu and, perhaps most of all, The Free Design. These influences combine magnificently, often within the same track, to produce a constantly changing palette of sounds. The bizarre themes add to the insanity - 'Sing Me Spanish Techno' not only has the second best song title so far this year*, but one of the best choruses. The competition on that front within this album alone is pretty fierce.
In short, give this album a try, and make sure you listen to it in its entirety. Some people will loathe this band, others will be completely overwhelmed. Isn't that what all great music is about?
* Second only to 'Joy Division Oven Gloves' by Half Man Half Biscuit. You can't compete with genius.
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