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CD Review: The Most Serene Republic

... And the Ever Expanding Universe (Arts and Crafts)

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The Most Serene Republic

... And the Ever Expanding Universe

(Arts & Crafts)

1/2

Hot on the heels of April's Digital Population EP, which remixed five tunes from 2007's Population in 16-bit Nintendo-style, this album shows off the Most Serene Republic's uncoventional streak. The Toronto group's first two records of sprawling, progressive indie-pop are solid, but ultimately forgettable. ... And the Ever Expanding Universe fairs a little better, but not much. The album's first four tracks find the band repeating their past sonic highlights. But it switches gears on "The Old Forever New Things." Adrian Jewett and Emma Ditchburn's tandem vocals hit something magical, almost in the same vein as their fellow Canucks Broken Social Scene. It's an enchanting and mystical number accentuated by Nick Greaves' banjo. "All of One Is the Other" follows, and it's more of the same. This time, things are more down-tempo, almost ambient — "Patternicity" sounds like incidental music from Fantasia, and "Don't Hold Back, Feel a Little Longer" even branches out in a more synthy direction. Too bad so much of the rest of the album feels like the band's past work. — Jeremy Willets

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