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Twin Cinema is, as it should be, the best New Pornographers record to date.
Remember when the first New Pornographers record, Mass Romantic, came out? Remember the eager anticipation? What — after all — would a mashing of Destroyer's Dan Bejar, Zumpano's A.C. Newman, and femininity's own Neko Case, sound like? The result was a record whose title track remains one of the best songs of the past five years. When Neko's vocals intertwined with the songwriting of Newman and the thumping rhythms of Bejar and the rest of the pornographic cartoonist/musician conglomerate, something magical happened, and a really fuckin' awesome band was born.
And then we heard there was going to be another record...
Electric Version became the record to anticipate. It didn't get the critical attention that perhaps it deserved because, well, everyone knew it was going to be great. It met expectations perfectly, and The New Pornographers became an excited, reliable member of the indie-rock canon.
The new addition is Twin Cinema, high in the running as one of the best records in the Northwest this past year, and easily the best record yet by the New Pornographers. But this was expected. How could it not be great?
What makes Twin Cinema successful is that it retains everything the New Pornographers have ever done well. The acoustic tracks are there, the crunching-thumping tracks are there like boot steps through deep gravel.
No one can say there isn't a great vocal harmonization like there is in Electric Version's "Testament to Youth in Verse" (probably the best part of that record), for an even better choral arrangement arrives unexpectedly at the end of "The Bleeding Heart Show," a Neko-lead arrangement with just enough allusion to a certain band for lonely hearts and the military.
No one can say that there aren't enough great head-banger rockers like "Slow Descent into Alcoholism" off Mass Romantic, for Twin… is loaded with them, notably "Jackie, Dressed in Cobras" and "Sing Me Spanish Techno" (one of the best pop titles in a long time).
No one can say that there isn't enough Neko, either (her voice has always been a major stitch in the cohesiveness of their sound) for she's taken on even more abundant a role: "The Bleeding Heart Show," "The Bones of an Idol," and "Streets of Fire" prove her one of the best and most unique indie vocalists today.
Can they get better? Please? When can I pre-order the fourth record?
So really, all that needs to be said is Twin Cinema is another step up the shiny golden ladder of quality for the New Pornographers — the first record was good, the next was better, now they're at the best they've ever been.