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New Pornographers

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Twin Cinema (Matador) is easily the least immediate album that Vancouver's New Pornographers have made--nothing on it leaps out and grabs you like, say, "Letter From an Occupant" or "All for Swinging You Around." But the record has abundant pleasures for anybody willing to spend time with it. On 2003's Electric Version, the band began shifting from an ad hoc conglomeration led by Carl Newman and took on a genuine group identity, and now it's even harder to tease out the individual personalities of members like Newman, Dan Bejar, and Neko Case. That's a good thing: the song parts and instrumental parts are well-balanced, and though Newman's clearly still the boss, his presence is never overwhelming. On "Sing Me Spanish Techno," from the new record, they splice together hard-rocking verses, a classic 70s power-pop bridge, and a chorus with gorgeous, delicate harmonies that fall somewhere between madrigal and Beach Boys. Elsewhere they hopscotch through moods, jumping from moody, minor-key verses to playfully mimicking the sound of a skipping LP on the chorus of "Falling Through Your Clothes." But the songs now sound built to last instead of to produce a sugar rush. A line like "The phantom taste drinking wine from your heels," from "The Bleeding Heart Show," isn't exactly catchy, but once the song's soaring "hey la, hey la" chorus kicks in, layered under a repeated single line sung by Case, any awkwardness vanishes. The group's touring with Kathryn Calder, who plays piano and sings on the record, adding yet another weapon to the band's already sizable arsenal. Bejar's band Destroyer plays second and Calder's band Immaculate Machine opens. Thu 10/20, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, sold out, 18+.

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