Recordings: The New Pornographers — Twin Cinema

    It’s not a secret by now that the New Pornographers — the conjunction of Canadian indie-rock royalty headed by the ambrosial-voiced Carl Newman — can write a delicious pop-rock song. Their first two records are soaked with such warm, sweet critical saliva that properly defiant rock warts had a right to cultivate an allergy for Newman’s minty-crisp chord changes and creamy, indelible harmonies — especially after they became the precious LiveJournal diet for a million Garden State teenagers.

    Those days are all over. Twin Cinema renders the Pornographers’ four-minute flirtations in such icily addictive transparency that the aforementioned curmudgeons and tots-of-triviality will have to get along — sugar just never tasted this sweet.

    The candy appeal seeps from Cinema’s deceptively crisp production. While Newman’s notes are as perfectly crafted as ever, the paradoxical balance achieved between the layers of the arrangements (“The Jessica Numbers” bears innumerable guitar tracks, yet the echo of the kick drum pedal booms a crucial pivot) reveals subtleties in the songwriting we never got to fully appreciate. With Neko Case sharing the vocal spotlight with Newman, and ex-Kinks frontman Ray Davies lending official Britpop credentials to their heavily indebted repertoire, Twin Cinema shows a more mature and interesting New Pornographers than the indie-pop parrots they once seemed. Sure, some of the 14 numbers on Twin Cinema quite clearly don’t need to exist — but at least we can’t say that about the whole group anymore.

    The New Pornographers will perform at the Belly Up Tavern at 8 p.m. on March 20.

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