Saturday, February 28, 2009

A.C. Newman- "Get Guilty"

Here's a review of A.C. Newman's latest album, "Get Guilty," that I wrote for my school paper.

As chief songwriter for alternative power-pop group the New Pornographers, Carl Newman has written many of the stream-of-consciousness lyrics and sweet, intricate melodies that have secured the band as one of the most consistent and satisfying indie acts around. On his latest solo venture, “Get Guilty,” released January 20, Newman continues this trend.

For his first solo album, 2004’s “The Slow Wonder,” Newman, who goes by “A.C.” as a solo artist, crafted a sound similar that of the Pornographers but is warmer and more intimate. On tracks such as “On the Table” and “Drink to Me, Babe, Then,” Newman maintained his pop inclinations and assembled meticulously layered compositions, complete with overdubbed vocals, shimmering tambourines and pounding drums.

On “Get Guilty,” Newman does not stray from his typical path and the result is as pleasing and charming as ever. His lyrics are still nonsensical, with “la la la” and “yo-ho” choruses that beg to be sung along to. As usual, Newman is a master at choreographing the rhythm section. He places syncopated beats creatively alongside a violently strummed acoustic guitar, like on the jumpy “Like a Hitman, Like a Dancer.” On “Submarines of Stockholm,” the instruments hardly carry a melody, but serve just to drive the hammering tempo.

Whereas his work with the New Pornographers involves much vocal harmonizing, on “Get Guilty” Newman opts to either overdub his own vocals, creating a more textured sound, or enlist a female vocalist, such as Nicole Atkins or Mates of State. These effects add muscle to Newman’s otherwise plain yet charming delivery. His voice is nothing spectacular, but it compliments his style well and his often-audible lisp is endearing.

“The Palace at 4 A.M.,” “Get Guilty (The Changeling),” and “There are Maybe Ten or Twelve” stand out with their catchy refrains and bouncy tunes. As a solo artist, Newman’s style does not stray far from his group work with the New Pornographers, but these solo albums live up to the high standard he has set for himself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed your "Get Guilty" review. I am especially smitten with "There Are Maybe Ten or Twelve." I found this recently posted dialog with Carl Newman insightful. His captivating song influences range from Enya to Sex Clark Five to country and all inbetween.