Local Wire

The New Pornographers

You could almost touch the hesitation when people finally got an earful of Electric Version, the New Pornographers' 2003 follow-up to their instantly canonized debut. An "It's-Good-But" record if ever there was one, Version was easy to defend but difficult to love, a record that demanded a little more than its predecessor and a record that played like its creators were all too conscious of the expectations. And while it's possible that Twin Cinema will also be met with some hemming, this time it's unwarranted. A big, sweet, sweaty summer fling of a pop record, Twin Cinema gives and gives until you give in to it. Version went for scope and ended up with ballast instead, but the second the chorus of "The Bones of an Idol" goes galaxy-size, with whooshing guitars and Technicolor supernova harmonies, it's clear that Newman and Case and Bejar, et al., have succeeded in making their Star Wars. Cinema seems to gain energy every time you pass through it. The band's greatest strength is its ability to make every segment of its songs sound like a chorus: The magnificent "The Bleeding Heart Show" moves from an elegant sustained chorus of "Ooo"s into another elegant chorus of "Hey La"s. The record's one big flaw is that it should have cued up the credits with Dan Bejar's grand, thundering, Sweet-by-way-of-Stephen Foster anthem "Broken Beads," but instead it dithers around for another four songs, which all play out like exuberant but redundant codas. Isn't it just like a summer blockbuster to overkill on the epilogues?
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J. Edward Keyes