Thursday, January 22, 2009

A.C. Newman - Get Guilty

"Make of [This] What You Will..."
(words: milo)

Canadian pop singer/songwriter A.C. Newman's second album, Get Guilty, is packed with warm, buzzy janglers, tailor-made for naïve grins, melodramatic turnabouts and cathartic sidewalk stomping strides in the sunshine. Damn this crusty January lull – with this record it can't be summer soon enough!

There's a unique airiness to Newman's voice, seeming to be wispy and fey similar to the deceptive softness of a passing blur of trees outside your speeding car window, or the faded delicacy of foggy hills off at the horizon; soft at a distance but the closer you get – it starts to hit you…

(A.C. Newman)

Instrumentation can range all around the poppiest-sounding moments of rock archives, be it the playful, theatrical shuffling of Bowie ("Get Guilty"). Or the pounding piano-and-drum combo of rousing fuzz shimmying ala T.Rex or something close (see "Prophets" or "Submarines of Stockholm"). But often, tracks are marked by his characteristic pull-back with a flickering breath-catching chorus. Then later on "Young Atlantis" he'll waltz you around with string-heavy chamber pop recalling Belle & Sebastian.

Get Guilty is the second solo-LP from the, (practically), leader of the unabashed pop pros The New Pornographers. Allan Carl Newman leads an always sly-and-subtle almost-danceable indie pop with a voice (and penchants for tone) as warm and invigorating as that first deep-huffed cast off of coats-come-springtime. One would suppose Newman studies and experiments with finding the perfect hook with equal meticulousness as Grandmaster Flash excavating the breakbeat or Phil Spector forming the wall-of-sound. Maybe that's an exaggeration in a post-Vampire Weekend world, but now that the mouse clicking indie community has a taste for pure-brazen-pop – then it's high-time they spun a dude whose been at it for 10 years.

The strength and cohesion of Get Guilty makes the previous (04's The Slow Wonder) feel thinly spread by comparison. So then, depending on your own pop-preference or your Newman's-other-band-preference (Pornographers) the good news (?) and bad news (?) is that Get Guilty can often sound like New Pornographers b-sides (…inevitably, perhaps?) (See: the punchy strum and pirouette vocal melodies of "Like a Hitman, Like a Dancer.") But, there's a few distinct shining examples of new-angled grooves like the dreamy "The Heartbreak Rides" or the sparse melody-leading "Thunderbolts."

Or, dig this other stand-out track:
"Submarines of Stockholm"

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