AC Newman: Shut Down The Streets
- Shut Down The Streets is the third solo release by New Pornographer Carl Newman (in this case better known as A.C. Newman) and it's a familiar odyssey to the man's previous ventures with a few twists and turns shoved into the mix, so you don't feel you've picked up another New Pornographers record.
As opposed to band mate Dan Bejar's adventures with Destroyer, Shut Down the Streets is instantly recognisable to New Porno fans, with Newman's distinctive voice and songwriting style coming through on the album - even on tracks that push new territory for him. Opener I'm Not Talking seems to put Newman in this middle ground of both worlds: dreamy synth paving the way for Newman's classic arrangement of acoustic guitar, string sections and melody driven vocal lines, it's a great way to kick off the record.
Following on, Do Your Own Time continues that middle ground flavour before Neko Case makes her first appearance on the record for the familiar boy-girl harmonies that made both their careers. Lead single Encyclopaedia of Classic Takedowns though, is a beautiful let down on the album that sounds like it was originally a B-Side off last New Porn album Together meshing that upbeat sound with a driving and building beat to that typical sing-along chorus.
It's the acoustic charm of the ironically titled There's Money in New Wave that takes the crown of the album, with a simple melody proving to be the launch pad for Newman's clever lyrics and vocal delivery. It'll have you casually bobbing your head back and forward, singing along in full agreement that there is no money anymore in rock n roll. Following on, Strings proves to be a close tie with New Wave with a quirky, cheap sounding keyboard string patch venturing off in amongst a strongly aided Case vocal line.
Towards the end it gets a bit same-same on tracks like Wasted English and The Troubadour which, on their own are good songs, but in combination with the rest fail to bring the necessary level of charm and get shoved away at the end of the record. They Should Have Shut Down The Streets closes the record and works well enough but fails to build to the peak that you feel it should when listening to it for the first time. Nonetheless it isn't a bad closer.
Shut Down The Streets is a solid release for Newman. It is a fun, light-hearted record that fans of The New Pornographers would love and new fans will take as a gateway drug to the past output of Newman and co.
- Brad Armstrong.