A.C. Newman’s “Shut Down The Streets” Is The Best New Pornographers Album Of 2012

Some band leaders take a respite from their main gig to try something completely different — play with Slash or Moroccan tribesman, explore songs all composed for zithers or something, do an album of covers they’d never get their bandmates to play. A.C. Newman punctuates New Pornographers albums with solo records that sound a lot like… New Pornographers albums, with a fair bit of overlap among musicians.  Maybe Shut Down The Streets is made up of songs that Kurt Dahle refuses to drum on, but sheesh, Neko sings on ’em, so why not just round up the gang?  And isn’t that Kurt on The Decembrists-esque “I’m Not Talking?”  Maybe the gang *is* all here.

If those aren’t his fellow Pornos playing, we’re betting their absence is a matter of convenience, of Carl Newman having moved himself and his expanding family to Upstate New York while most  of his colleagues prefer to see the sun set over the orcas gamboling in Vancouver Harbor.  All we know is that, not for the first time, Newman’s released a fine album that will do more than tide us over until the next New Pornographers album sweet-talks its way past the censors.

We’re liking Shut Down The Streets almost as much as The Slow Wonder, and a lot more than Get Guilty, which came out in 2009.  After the first two New Porno albums made the world a whackier and far more joyous place, some of the band’s fans reacted to the third album — Twin Cinemas, with its oft-slower, less manic songs — like Andrew Sullivan reviewing the President’s recent debate performance.  But we liked the depth and minor-key melodic shifts, the emotional complexity of that album and what followed, especially on subsequent albums, with songs like “Fortune” and “We End Up Together,” which swapped effervescent irony for psychic nourishment, pop rocks for comfort food.  And so it goes with Shut Down The Streets, which shows a parallel progression from The Slow Wonder that Together showed from Mass Romantic, and is a lot more like “Bones Of An Idol” than “The SlowDescent Into Alcoholism.”

Newman is now a married man, a father, an adult so willing to step up to the richer, heavier texture of his new life that he tweets threats to his dachshund (who apparently started it by growling at the newborn.)  Making the Sophie’s Choice of one’s kid over the pooch…not a typical rock star move.  The same evidence of maturity is shown throughout Shut Down The Streets.  A little of the old manic wildness is gone, but what remains is so admirably resonant you’d think he was a Canadian or something.

One Response to “A.C. Newman’s “Shut Down The Streets” Is The Best New Pornographers Album Of 2012”

  1. […] turns out that, A.C. Newman’s Shut Down The Streets was not only the best New Pornographer’s album of 2012, it was also one of the best albums of the year.  As we said in October, “We’re […]

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