New Pornographers' songwriter A C Newman can be a frustrating talent, boasting ideas to burn but often guilty of over-egging the arrangements, a constant danger when dealing with an octet of multi-instrumentalists.
He's like 10cc minus the acerbity, or Roy Wood without the wild-rock spirit. The results can be brilliant, as on 2007's Challengers; but here they're more hit and miss. The vibrato backing vocals, plunking piano and throbbing psych-rock cello riff of "Moves" works a treat, and the rolling drum tattoo of "Your Hands (Together)" matches the song's celebratory tone perfectly; but elsewhere, tracks like "Up in the Dark" are slim ideas pursued too methodically. And when the musical ideas don't carry them well, Newman's overripe lyrics just flop limply.
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