A.C. Newman - Shut Down the Streets (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

A.C. Newman

Shut Down the Streets (2012)


A.C. Newman does two things well: the other thing, and pop music.

The New Pornographers frontman's second solo record, Shut Down the Streets, is a collection of power-pop skeletons that could be blown out into massive jams, but sound and work fine as quiet, introverted tunes for adults and overly emotional teens.

Indeed, sometimes things can be too pleasant. The album employs a lot of the same tricks over again: doubled-up boy/girl vocals, strum-y guitars with minimal percussion or added instrumentation, string accompaniment that could be called "Beatles-esque" if you are being charitable and "baroque" if you're being a snobby dick about it. These moves work fine on a song-by-song basis, but in the context of the album, it makes the middle section sound a lot like the boring parts of a Kinks album.

Of course, this is A.C. Newman we're talking about, so there's always going to be shit worth checking out. "Encyclopedia of Classic Takedowns" doubles as a rocking, Pornographers-lite jam and the best name for a wrestling documentary that doesn't exist yet. "I'm Not Talking" and "Do Your Own Time" experiment with electronic elements to maximum effect. "The Troubadour" makes the banjo sound mysterious.

View it as a stopgap before the next New Pornograpgers or Newman's "English pop phase," if you must, but for warm collection of mature pop music, one could do a lot worse than Shut Down the Streets.