A.C. Newman

“Did you ever wonder / baby if you were under / your own spell?”

Album Year Rating
The Slow Wonder 1993 2.51/pi

The solo moniker of New Pornographers leader Carl Newman, because for some reason every god damn man, woman, and child in the world has to have a solo career.

Lineup: A.C. Newman: guitar, bass, vocals, miscellany. Sarah Wheeler: vocals. Fisher Rose & Pete Bourne: drums. A bunch of other people: other stuff.

THE SLOW WONDER

1993; Rating: 2.51/pi

Composition: + / Lyrics: ++ / Production: ~ / Innovation: ~

  • 01 Miracle Drug [A]
  • 02 Drink to Me, Babe, Then [B+]
  • 03 On the Table [A]
  • 04 Most of Us Prizefighters [C+]
  • 05 The Battle for Straight Time [B+]
  • 06 Secreterial [A−]
  • 07 Come Crash [B+]
  • 08 Better Than Most [B−]
  • 09 The Cloud Prayer [A]
  • 10 The Town Halo [A−]
  • 11 35 in the Shade [B]

Taking a break from New Pornography, A.C. “Carl” Newman offers us his highly inconsistent solo debut. The good news is, he’s expanded his palette from the pure power-pop earotica of his beloved group—witness the beautiful trumpet-drenched lovesick ballad “The Cloud Prayer”. The bad news is, most of the material is produced in a brash, uncomfortable style, with shouted vocals and freakishly huge drums and guitar blasts and crap all over the place, like that guy at the party who just TALKS REALLY LOUD ALL THE TIME FOR NO REASON AND SPITS FLECKS OF FOOD ALL OVER YOUR FACE.

“Miracle Drug” kicks things off with a burst of rawk energy and impenetrable lyrics. And “On the Table” is a nawesome bit of baroque piano pop with more hooks than you can shake your booty at. But then you have to get up and skip the super-boring “Most of Us Prizefighters”. The good stuff here is very good, but like so many that have come before, this is an album cursed with the accursed curse of filler. And the only thing sadder than filler is filler on an album that barely crosses the half-hour mark. Fie on you, Mr Newman!

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