Album: AC Newman

The Slow Wonder, Matador
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Carl Newman's day job is prime mover of American indie band The New Pornographers, whose albums Mass Romantic and Electric Version have secured them a steadily growing native fanbase on the back of widespread critical acclaim.

Carl Newman's day job is prime mover of American indie band The New Pornographers, whose albums Mass Romantic and Electric Version have secured them a steadily growing native fanbase on the back of widespread critical acclaim. For this solo debut, however, he's opted to present himself as one of the growing legions of pop classicists attempting to forge new alloys from half-familiar elements gleaned from the last four decades of transatlantic rock'n'roll. The result is a melodic, versatile kind of clever-dick pop which the press release correctly likens to bands such as XTC and The Flaming Lips - to whom one could also add the likes of 10cc, and many more besides. With its enervated yawns of slide guitar and engaging high-register harmonies, "Drink to Me, Babe, Then" sounds like The Shins, while "On the Table" could be a catchy art-rock number by Supertramp. And with its pounding piano and tom-toms, the climactic "35 in the Shade" is almost Elton-esque in its camp grandiosity. There's a pleasing tension throughout between the mellifluous melodies and the astringent guitar work, but it's sometimes hard to figure out what the songs are about, with lines often seeming fairly inscrutable.

Comments