Underwater Cinematographer

Studio Album by released in 2005
Underwater Cinematographer's tracklist:
Prologue
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Content Was Always My Favorite Colour
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(Oh) God
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The Protagonist Suddenly Realizes What He Must Do in the Middle of Downtown Traffic
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Proposition 61
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Where Cedar Nouns and Adverbs Walk
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In Places, Empty Spaces
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Relative's Eyes
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King of No One
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You're a Loose Cannon McArthur... but You Get the Job Done
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Epilogue
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Underwater Cinematographer review

Hailing from the suburbs of Toronto, The Most Serene Republic features Adrian Jewett (vocals), Adam Nimmo (drums), Ryan Lenssen (keyboards), Nick Greaves (guitar), Andrew McArthur (bass), and Emma Ditchburn (vocals/guitar). The quirky indie-rock sextet formed in 2003 and inked a deal with Arts & Crafts shortly thereafter, becoming the first band signed to the Toronto label that didn't include a member of Broken Social Scene. The band's sophisticated debut, Underwater Cinematographer, was issued this summer. The Most Serene Republic boasts an unpredictable-yet-familiar sound, rooted in indie-pop, but sprinkled with electronic beats and blips as well as other pleasantly unorthodox sounds. Not many albums make you smile so much your face hurts. Adrian Jewitt may not have a pitch-perfect voice, but his enthusiasm more than makes up for it, perfectly suiting the energetic, joyful nature of the music. The band seems intent on cramming every song with as many ideas as they possibly can.

Underwater Cinematographer comes off shiny and happy with its majestic piano arrangements dancing around angst-ridden guitar riffs and warm harmonies. After a shimmering prologue, the disc opens with Content Was Always My Favorite Color, an upbeat, chugging pop tune thick with handclaps and semi-intelligible bleated lyrics. (Oh) God is far more interesting musically, featuring a light, jangling guitar riff that cuts through the airy synth-pop. Jewett wears his heart on his sleeve like so many of indie-rock's tortured souls (Lou Barlow, Ben Gibbard, Joey Sweeney), particularly on songs such as The Protagonist Suddenly Realizes What He Must Do in the Middle of Downtown Traffic and In Places, Empty Spaces. These two particular tracks not only highlight a classic sentimentality, but also an inviting and a very personal effort from the band. They make it okay to be playful (King of No One) and smart (You're a Loose Cannon McArthur...But You Get the Job Done), all without melodrama and too much romance.

Underwater Cinematographer isn't your quintessential debut album. It's too complex, too inquisitive, and too ambitious. It swims in multiple happenings, submersed in building, often urgent noise, from piano to viola to guitar. The brooding arrangements are clever, and distinguished from the rest by the heart and soul so obviously sacrificed for the music. But it's the conviction and passion within the singing — both male and female — that wins you over in the end. The Most Serene Republic are more than just another Arts & Crafts band – they are joyful, they're rambunctious and they even (occasionally) rock. It's hard to imagine a band coming along this year with a better or more enjoyable debut.