Directed by Christian Cerezo. From Continue as a Guest, due March 31 on Merge.
New new. No no? Nanu nanu. Mork calling Orson. Come in, Orson.
“Really Really Light” was co-written by A.C. Newman and Dan Behar. Sort of. Newman took a Behar outtake from 2014’s Brill Bruisers and wrote a new song around it.
“Part of my process throughout the years has been messing with things I never finished. I really liked Dan’s chorus, and for a while I was just trying to write something that I felt like belonged with it,” Newman says. “I was thinking of the Aloe Blacc song ‘The Man’ which interpolated the chorus from Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ and thought it would be fun to interpolate a song that no one knows. Not trying to sound like Aloe Blacc, just doing some interpolating of my own. It became a game of writing a verse that felt like a part of the same song. In my mind, I was striving for a little Jeff Lynne–era Tom Petty, a classic go-to.”
Classic indeed. It’s crazy how consistent the New Pornos have remained over the 20-whatever years they’ve been around. The current incarnation includes Newman, plus Neko Case, Kathryn Calder, John Collins, Todd Fancey and Joe Seiders. Are they a supergroup? A side project? Who knows, but as long as they keep putting out classic songs like this, who cares?
The New Pornographers are one of those bands that I probably wouldn’t have discovered if not for Glorious Noise. The fervor of some of this site’s regular bulletin board contributors was so intense for this band at one point that you actually felt you had to buy a New Pornographers album as admission to reply to any post.
I’d like to know how many of those same supporters feel about this band since 2005’s Twin Cinema, because in my ears, there’s a sense that Carl Newman and company have lost bit a steam in their bid for power-pop perfection.
Has A.C. Newman been listening to some Jack White? Power chords and throbbing electric piano kick off the ballsiest song these chipper Canadians have ever recorded. The harmonies, as always, sound great. I hope the whole album is this badass.
Friday night was a fun bonus, but the real festival started on Saturday. That’s when the place filled up with perfectly unkempt indie kids, all the vendors were in full effect, and they kept scruffs like me out of the VIP section.
The importance of the weather cannot be overstated. When it’s hot as balls like it had been for the previous two Fork Fests, it becomes hard to drink the Goose Island beer and revolting to get too close to other sweaty people. When it’s over 100 and humid as hell, you need an American-style light lager. In fact, you need a lot of them. And you have to wear shorts even if your legs are pasty.
But when it’s mid-70s and breezy, you can wear jeans if you want, you can drink good beer, and you can work your way through a thick crowd occasionally bumping into a scantily clad young person without immediately being covered in stank. You can even eat Chipotle. Why not?
When I heard about this tour I assumed it was going to be set up as a sort of co-headlining affair. For whatever reason, I had thought both bands had achieved a fairly equivalent stature. Goes to show how accurate my “scene radar” is.
The New Pornographers were clearly just the opening band.
A.C. (Carl) Newman follows his fellow New Pornographer Dan Bejar with an excellent solo release that is sure to make many a critic’s year end top ten. Whereas Bejar put out the art album of the year with Destroyer (review), Newman has put out a power pop album that sounds much like Mass Romantic outtakes. Keep in mind; this isn’t a bad thing, as The Slow Wonder contains eleven songs that highlight how tremendous of a songwriter Newman is.
“Miracle Drug” (mp3) is so damn catchy that you fear Newman set you up for disappointment the rest of the way. However, the bouncing “Drink to Me, Babe, Then” (mp3) tops it with perfectly timed symbol crashes and hand claps. Each song stands out as a pop gem and deserves a paragraph of praise. “On the Table,” “Most of Us Prizefighters,” and “Secretarial” are reason enough to play The Slow Wonder over and over again.
Yet, Newman slows the tempo with faultless precision on “Come Crash” and “The Cloud Prayer.” Singing, “Once again, you’re a Godsend” on the former you can’t help but think this translates to the timing of the release of the album. Saving his best for the end Newman incorporates a cello of all instruments to turn “The Town Halo” into a song of the year candidate. And brings the listener to their knees with the tremendous closer “35 in the Shade.”
In what might become the Year of the Pornographer, The Slow Wonder is a half hour of concise and catchy power pop songs. You’ll find it hard to get through the entire album because of hitting repeat after each one.