A.C. Newman The Slow Wonder

On the heels of the New Pornographer’s excellent Electric Version just last year, Carl Newman returns with his third solid record in just four years and the first to bear only his name. Though decidedly more varied than his most recent output, this is unmistakably the work of Newman at yet another creative peak. A succinct and relentless mixture of power pop, lax mid-tempo indie rock, a brief foray into Zombies-influenced balladry and, with "The Town Halo,” one of the best he’s penned yet, even explosive cello-fuelled riff rock. With long-time producers John Collins and Dave Carswell behind the boards, Slow Wonder is also adorned with a perfectly apposite production, somewhere between the rough edges of Mass Romantic and the slickness of Electric Version while rarely sounding quite like either. Newman has made one of his best records to date with Slow Wonder, a stunning journey through the many avenues of pop music that he is continually able to channel with a consistent skill rarely attempted, let alone accomplished, by many of his contemporaries.

How did the solo album come about? A couple of years ago this guy emailed me about doing a solo single and I guess that planted a seed in my head. Then when I was writing Electric Version I would go through demos and take note of the ones that wouldn’t work for the band and eventually I had a list of 15 songs. So I thought I’d record an album.

Did you approach the record differently? Absolutely. I didn’t want it to sound like a Pornographers record, but I also didn’t want to put out one of those singer/songwriter records, either. I didn’t want it to be "Carl Newman in the mellow mood.” The songs have more space but they rock just as much as, if not more than the Pornographers.

Anyone you’d like to hear cover one of your songs? I’d have to say Justin Timberlake, covering "Drink To Me, Babe, Then.” But he’d have to have a ’70s soul feel, maybe like Al Green’s "Let’s Stay Together.” He and the Neptunes could really reinvent that as much as they want. I’d give them full creative control. I trust their instincts. (The Blue Curtain)