Twin Cinema, by the New Pornographers
Suggested by Roy Williams
The New Pornographers are a Canadian collective of Indie creators from other successful bands, drawn together to form a classic supergroup. We have members of Maow, the Corn Sisters, Cub, the Evaporators, Destroyer, Superconductor, Zumpano, Limblifter, Immaculate Machine, Frontperson, Beat Club and Suffrajett, all pitching in to create fresh art.
Not only do I know nothing about the New Pornographers, I also know nothing about any of the bands that cough up members to form the eponymous supergroup. Truly, my lack of musical education is an embarrassment to behold. I wonder when I’ll no longer be able to claim this particular blindness… maybe I can retire it after Album 500.
With so many individual strands, there could be a danger of creation by committee, with everyone designing horses yet creating camels. Thankfully, the ship is steered by vocalist / guitarist AC Newman of Superconductor and Zumpano, who writes the majority of the songs. Thus there’s a cohesion of style throughout, without the stultifying boredom of similarity gatecrashing the party and urinating in the punch.
Twin Cinema introduces some excellent slices of power pop, eminently hummable songs that adhere to a standard verse-chorus-verse structure. Musically, there’s a frenetic and almost slipshod feel, as if the players involved are all fabulously vamping to impress the person on their left. It’s almost busky in tone, which helps it forge a summery, delighted sound. It’s a beer garden sound, a convertible sound, driving on the B roads as the July sun sets, a breeze in your face and a banger on the radio.
Musically, there’s twangling guitar and soulful piano, and fabulous brushy drums with a swinging hypnotic feel. Vocally, there’s literally something for everyone, as it seems that the entire band step up to the plate and belt out a vocal fastball. Lyrically, we’re in exciting territory, as each song has nuance and double-meaning depth that belies the pop song aesthetic. It’s too much to take in on a single listen, but it’ll reward those willing to dive a little deeper.
My standout song is Jackie, Dressed in Cobras, which apparently continues the tale of Jackie that was started in a previous album. Other highlights include the funky Three or Four and the hypnotic Falling Through Your Clothes.
Twin Cinema gets a steady 8/10 for me, as each song built on the previous while retaining a coordinated whole. The songs constantly surprise, and I’d happily see more of this Canadian supergroup on my virtual turntable in the weeks and months to come.