The New Pornographers: Twin Cinema

By Kelly Johnson

“Twin Cinema” is what we in the “rock critic” circle like to term a “grower.”

The New Pornographers’ 2000 debut album “Mass Romantic” exploded right away with unbelievably fun and instantly catchy pop songs, all accentuated by seemingly familiar but wholly original melodies compliments of A.C. Newman and Neko Case.

Next was 2003’s “Electric Version,” which continued in the same vein as “Romantic,” but presented a slightly more experimental approach that seemed off-putting at first.

This leaves us with “Twin Cinema,” a wonderful representation of a band redefining its sound without losing the appeal that first made them attractive. Upon initial spins, however, the album seemingly lacks the pop flare to which the familiar have grown accustomed.

The new trick up the Pornographers’ sleeve this go-around is subtlety. The title track embraces the upbeat pop sound the Pornographers’ have mastered, but from “Bones of an Idol” onward, the songs possess a more reflective approach. The subdued sound seems underwhelming at first, but subsequent listens unearth pop gems that are among the band’s best work.

“The Bleeding Heart Show” opens with a soft acoustic strum in a minor key, an almost unheard of move for the Pornographers. By the end of the song, the band has erupted into a gospel-like flurry of harmonies.

Everyone has his or her own method to make that old Nintendo play a beat-up copy of “Punch-Out!” after all these years. Instead of blowing into the cartridge, however, The New Pornographers have flipped it around and shoved it in backwards. The incredible part is, it still works.