The New Pornographers: Twin Cinema (2005)
Carl Newman, who writes and sings most of the band's music, has an uncanny way of taking a traditional pop hook and then twisting it just a little, moving it in an unexpected direction, which keeps the albums unpredictable and fresh. These hooks are then amped up to ten with typically dense, baroque musical accompaniment. Dan Bejar, of indie band Destroyer, adds a slightly more offbeat pop sensibility to the mix on a few songs. And of course the band has a not-so-secret weapon in Neko Case, the Americana (albeit Canadian) chanteuse, wielding her gorgeous pipes (I saw her solo once and, damn, that's a show you need to see) to Newman's frenetic hooks to perfect effect. None of which is to diminish co-vocalist Kathryn Calder, also fantastic.
Plenty of great tunes here beyond "Bleeding Heart"; "Sing Me Spanish Techno" is every bit as catchy and joyous, and the title track is fun as well. There are times on the album, as on all their releases, where I wish Newman would keep it a little less busy rather than introducing that one weird chord change or bridge, but the band's insistence on challenging power pop conventions is what sets them apart.
Here's a live performance of "The Bleeding Heart Show," because I believe you are a good person and should hear it:
Here's the album on Spotify:
Buy it on Amazon.