The brainchild of one A.C. (or simply Carl) Newman, formerly of a band called Zumpano and some time solo artist, The New Pornographers, according to the band’s biog, are a Vancouver indie supergroup. That said, I must confess to only having heard of one member before – Neko Case – a country-esque chanteuse who’s previously worked with the likes of Calexico.
Twin Cinema certainly sounds as if many creative hands have been at work, however – it brims and fizzes with ideas, some of which work slightly better than others. Many tracks, such as Jackie, Dressed in Cobras could easily pass off as 70s bubblegum popsters The Sweet, whereas more oddball affairs like Falling Through Your Clothes sound like a band sharing a headline slot with the Fiery Furnaces. Richly-textured production blending male and female vocals is reminiscent of The B52s and at best, even (dare I say it) occasionally echoes the Lindsey Buckingham/Stevie Nicks harmonies of mid-seventies Fleetwood Mac.
It’s rare these days and therefore refreshing to hear such joyous records as ‘Use It’ or the opening title track, and that is something The New Pornographers have in spades. Sometimes the rousing choruses get a little grating – The Bleeding Heart Show and Stacked Crooked have a ridiculously catchy refrains which will get the crowds going in a gig encore but actually sound a bit well, Bucks Fizz. More angular, experimental tracks such as ‘The Jessica Numbers’ fare a little better.
What Twin Cinema seems to lack is quality control. For an album which has three stunning opening tracks, the rest of it is somewhat patchy in comparison. Sing Me Spanish Techno, for example, has an excellent verse but is ruined by an overly twee chorus. Star Bodies suffers from being too long. A few tracks less, and a little pruning, and Twin Cinema could have been altogether richer experience. As it is, the phrase ‘less is more’ springs to mind as only half of the tracks make it onto the iPod.