July 14, 2009 - Arts & Crafts
The Most Serene Republic play it incredibly safe while maintaining their baroque-rock rep on full-length No. 3, ...And The Ever Expanding Universe. Arranging pop nuggets with brass and strings as proficiently as labelmates Broken Social Scene and Stars was never a problem for the Ontario septet before, so hiring BSS regular David Newfeld to produce this time doesn't scream, "We want to innovate." Fortunately, Feist-ier than ever backup vocalist Emma Ditchburn dominates her duets with lithe frontman Adrian Jewett--whenever she's not stuck harmonizing behind him. Their interplay paired with uncaged techno beats brings "Don't Hold Back, Feel A Little Longer" to life, and her warbling on "Heavens To Purgatory" shows unmatched poise. Fingers crossed for a Ditchburn side project, which will hopefully rouse these still-talented players from "BSS Jr." predictability.