September 2, 2004

Test Spin: A.C. Newman

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In these days of dancepunk, emo and depressing war-inspired anthems of fire, it’s very refreshing to hear something as clear and simple and natural as this. Carl Newman, the head songwriter of the deliciously infectious New Pornographers, has given himself the moniker A.C. Newman and gone solo, resulting in a slightly more downbeat and acoustic sound.

Newman hits the ground running with the first track, the incredible “Miracle Drug,” which has a rollicking beat and a background flute to accompany the stuttering riff. The piano work in “On The Table” brings back Elvis Costello-esque old-school pop songwriting, and the cello in “The Town Halo” is a new kind of tasty. The mostly quiet “Come Crash” features a thunderous boom in the refrain that cleverly evokes the song title as the music comes crashing down. But the best song here is “Drink To Me, Babe, Then,” a nearly transcendental piece of pop music which has hints of the Shins’ “New Slang.” Newman gracefully combines slide guitar, toms, handclaps, tambourine, and whistling, as he sings of love and landslides in a message that is both vague and beautiful.

A.C. Newman is a uniquely genius songwriter. That there can be sounds this pleasing to the ear just boggles the mind. This album is too catchy. I’ll never go to bed tonight.

Archived article by John Penning
Red Letter Daze Staff Writer