Thursday, July 28, 2005

Listening too long/ to one song/ Sing me Spanish techno...

I'm not going to go the GQ route and dress better and workout. I'm also not going to go the GQ route and call Twin Cinema the best New Pornographers album yet; I have a metaphorical soft spot in my heart for Electric Version. It's close to the literal soft spot in my heart being formed by excessive drinking and smoking. I call him "Leaky the Timebomb." (The difference is the former won't require me to get a black-market baboon heart in a few years.)

When I first heard this album was being released in late August, I wondered why, since Electric Version was a perfect summer album. But now I see the method to their madness: Twin Cinema is almost a melancholy album. It's probably best enjoyed as the summer burns away and the leaves fall. But it's not cold; throughout the album, there's a warmth and joy. "Warm like a tumble of bells," as Toni Morrison would say. A.C. Newman said a while ago that this album wasn't like the previous ones; it was about songs building. And you can see that in "Falling Through Your Clothes" and especially "The Bleeding Heart Show". That song, it just blooms, and when it does, it's absolutely gorgeous. If I had sequenced the album, it would have come later so that it could have rightfully taken its place as the centerpiece. By the end of the song, there's such an uplift, it's like going to church, sans the homophobia. When Springsteen plays, and he breaks out his "rock and roll preacher" bit, testifying, saying rock and roll can save you, this is the proof. At the end of four minutes, your soul is saved, if only for a little bit before the flourescent lights of your office drown you again.

There are few rocking songs. "Twin Cinema", "Sing Me Spanish Techno" and "Star Bodies" are the closest and they're not even close to the choir blast of pop that comprised the previous albums. While "Sing Me Spanish Techno" may be the first song that jumps out as you as "the mix tape song", it becomes increasingly obvious that while catchy, the song is breezy, and nothing more, especially compared to the thoughtful songs that take longer to appreciate. In fact, the song sounds like a castoff, closer in relation to "Graceland" off of the What's Up Matador comp than to, say, "The End of Medicine". (It's kind of ironic that it's probably the song I've listened to the most, and has a chorus that goes "Listening too long/to one song." When I think about it too much, I black out, and wake up on the floor with "A.C." carved into my arm. Spooky.) Neko's big contribution, "These Are the Fables" barely even works up a sweat (but comes closest when the drums kick in towards the end), but it's a thing of beauty. They've learned the beauty of retraint, and while I never would have said it would work for them, I can't say that now.

Other highlights:
I want to metion every song, but I can;t. That's not how you review albums, and Nick Hornby would never do it. Hell, Rob Sheffield wouldnn't do it. Anyway, this is a deeper, denser album than anything previous. It's not as much "fun". But good lord, it's a great ride.


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