Thursday, August 25, 2005

First Impressions: The New Pornographers


Pure pop bliss. It's an expression I've already used once this year-- when describing Andrew Bird's The Mysterious Production of Eggs, still 2005's best album-- and now I have reason to use it again. Twin Cinema, the latest disc from New Pornographers, is one of the most talked-about and critically acclaimed new releases of the year, and it is indeed a strong album.

These fourteen songs are all tight, efficient pop gems, filled with melodies that sink their teeth in and don't let go. The hooks in these songs-- mostly written by Carl Newman-- will remind you of every great pop band you've ever heard without ever sounding like any one band in particular. The production is excellent, using minimal polish and effects so as not to distract from the remarkable songcraft.

There's a lot to love about this album, but, after spending a little more than two days with it, I find myself being especially drawn to the songs sung by Neko Case. I'm unfamiliar with Case's acclaimed solo albums, but I'm going to have to remedy that immediately; she's got a smoky voice and magnetic presence that make her performances the most memorable on the whole album.

If I have any complaint with the album, it's that it doesn't quite feel like... well, an album. Perhaps it's the fact that these tracks don't explore many new textures or tones; perhaps it's the fact that there's no real center or focal point here; or perhaps it's just that the album is a little too long. Whatever the reason, Twin Cinema sounds more like a greatest-hits parade than a cohesive work of art.

But perhaps that will change once I spend more time with it and begin to dig into the lyrics. For now, suffice to say that, though some critics are overstating this record's greatness, it is a very strong album, and a probably contender for my Best of 2005 list.

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