Sympathetic Stupid

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The New Pornographers: Twin Cinema

I hate it when I accidentally read the Pitchfork review of a CD that I was obviously gonna buy anyway, especially when they give it 9.0 (which is really quite high). Cause I don't want to be one of those gauche people who are dependent on some website to tell them what to listen to. Especially one that takes itself so seriously. And I don't need a clue as to whether the album is good or not, I should be able to work that out if I've got any taste at all, which I obviously do. Since I know they said it was good, I'm now obligated to say it's bad, right?

(Ah, us cultural supersnobs lead a hard life. It's hard to clutch onto that tiny shred of cred.)

Um, it's actually kinda magnificent.

They were already the monarchs of the realm power-pop for mine. Both their previous albums - Mass Romantic and Electric Version - have the property that when a song plays, I have to break into the shuffle and switch to the The New Pornographers playlist for an hour. Yeah, I know I should listen to the new EP from that underground experimental hip-hop/funk/death metal combo, but sometimes pure sonic sugar is just what you feel like.

But this isn't just sonic sugar. The crystal production conceals the manifold nature of the tracks; on the seventh listen, suddenly you discover a funky piano bass line at the bottom of the verse in Sing Me Spanish Techno, or a cello in the back of These Are The Fables. And then there's the drums, as eulogised in the Pitchfork review; listen to Jackie, Dressed In Cobras and the drums just play rolling fills for the entire bridge, while the guitars move the track along easily. Not to mention, in the same track, the fucking with time, I'm sure that's a measure of 7, a 4, then an 8. And the harmonied chorus of Falling Through Your Clothes has been cut up and stuck back together in a questionable way. But it works!

Every track on the album has moments like this. It's a desert island disc; constant random walks through the disc don't kill it but only make it stronger. By the Law Of Inverse Attractiveness, it takes a while for the ear to attune to their frequency, but then it's magic, with Sing Me Spanish Techno as my absolute highlight.

My only regret is that every time I hear these tracks again, I'm one listen closer to the Death Of The Album, the point at which you're inured to the magic. But, fuck, make the most of it while it lasts.