2.26.2008

The New Pornographers: Twin Cinema

Twin Cinema confuses me. The performances are energetic, the music is interesting, the lyrics are decent, and I find the album utterly boring.

Maybe it's the whole power-pop/indie-rock thing. I don't much care for Beatles and/or Kinks fans who wear their literary intellects and their love for smarmy '70s pop on their ironic sleeves.

Or maybe it's the fact that I've never liked a band on Matador Records. Not that I've heard their whole catalog or anything, but very few Matador bands do more than bore me. Yo La Tengo? More like No La Tengo. Cat Power? Sounds like Cat Pooper. Neko Case?

Well, now I'm confused again. Neko Case is one of the strongest singers I've heard in the past decade. It's as if her voice is in harmony with my very soul, and when she sings, my spirit vibrates. But not here. It doesn't matter whether she or A.C. Newman is singing; it leaves me completely cold.

I've listened and listened and listened to Twin Cinema. I actually started listening when it came out in 2005, but then I got bored and gave away my copy of the CD. So I tried listening again when I saw Twin Cinema at the EPFL, and I'm still bored. Maybe their name should be The New Borenographers.

Music: 2.5 EPFL library cards out of a possible 5
Twin Cinema is filled with well-constructed songs that are played by reasonably talented musicians who work together to create some decent energy, but the music is about as exciting as a third-rate '80s arena rock band like 38 Special. It's missing that certain je ne sais qua that the greatest rock albums possess. The brightest point on the album is the refrain on "The Bleeding Heart Show," which sounds like a reworked version of "Life in a Northern Town" by The Dream Academy. I can't really fault Twin Cinema, but I would be lying if I called it anything more than mildly interesting.

Packaging: 2 EPFL library cards out of a possible 5
The cover suffers from the same shortcomings as the music. It's good and it conveys a mood, but it doesn't matter. Pictures of vintage gear in run down rehearsal spaces are almost as clichéd as skull tattoos. The idea of using a portable screen for the album's credits was brilliant, but the execution is as uninspired as the rest of the package. The words should have been projected on the screen in each photo, not pasted on top by some hack who knows nothing about Photoshop except for how to center text. Sure, it would have been more difficult; it also would have been good.

Listen if you like: Indie rock/pop like Yo La Tengo or Pavement. I wouldn't even consider recommending this to Neko Case fans, as I think her performances here are a disservice to her talent.

If it were food, it'd be: The last few years I lived in New York, Belgian fries became popular with the cool kids. Twin Cinema reminds me of Belgian fries: no matter how fabulous the indie rock hipsters say they are, they make for a boring and unhealthy meal.

1 comment:

The Mad Hatter said...

Always loved those "intellectual" Beatles/Kinks fans. They use pastoral like it's cool to rev up Wordsworth and smithy pompous inanities about how their band is so much better and so much more different, amusing, interesting than everyone else's. Besides, any music described as "hip" mustn't have too much else going for it except for its half-life.