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.
Imagine a loose consortium of musicians who combine the lilting melodies of the Zombies with the driving hooks of the Kinks. Sure, it's what all the kids are doing these days, but Vancouver's New Pornographers are one of the few--along with the Shins--to get the balance right. Their third full-length offers more of the same smart power-pop that made Mass Romantic and Electric Version instant classics, plus some surprising new moves. As singer/songwriter Carl Newman (The Slow Wonder) has noted, "You can't play ebow without sounding like Eno," and indeed, Brian Eno's sublime early recordings are evoked on this more introspective offering. There are also strong new vocalists joining Neko Case: Nora O'Connor (the Blacks) and Newman's piano-playing niece, Kathryn Calder. If there was a flaw with previous efforts, it was that the contributions of Dan Bejar (Destroyer), fine as they were, sounded somewhat out of place. Just as they're better integrated this time around, Twin Cinema offers every member of this insanely talented ensemble the chance to shine. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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