AC Newman – ‘Get Guilty’

June 29, 2009 § Leave a comment

Published: The Big Issue, #321, January 2009.

Get Guilty
A.C. Newman
***1/2

Clamour and prettiness can coexist all too easily if we just let them. Just listen to Get Guilty, the jangling, ragged-edged second solo album from A.C. Newman.

Best known as the front man from Vancouver indie pop mob The New Pornographers, Newman is all vigour and bluster on this dozen-song oeuvre. Guitars, keys, whistles, mandolins, strings and drums crash and rattle and swoop in perfectly messy harmony; Newman’s snappy, lisping vocal soars above.

There are some lovely moments here. The strident riffage and self-referential meanderings of opener ‘There are Maybe Ten or Twelve’ and the wondrous hook and arcing falsetto harmony of ‘Prophets’ make for an elating couple of tracks, each riddled with ample wit, imagery and metaphor. But while sharp and dextrous, at times you feel like Newman isn’t letting us in on the full story. Moments like ‘All of My Days’ – apparently written about his wedding day – are sweet, but hardly the affecting documents you would hope them to be.

We’re seduced us with flashes of intimacy, only to be kept at arms length – we’re invited in, only to find a chair jammed against the door. It’s enthralling all the same. Sometimes, the principal thrill is the seduction itself.

Dan Rule

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