I’ll be the first to admit that A.C. Newman’s solo work has an awful lot in common with his ‘mainstream’ work with The New Pornographers – considering he’s a lead vocalist and songwriter in both projects, I suppose it makes sense that his particular brand of arrhythmic rock-pop would be a common denominator.
The line between the two is particularly blurred when comparing Challengers, TNP’s most recent release, with Newman’s brand new Get Guilty. Before Challengers, The New Pornographers’ sound focussed mainly on tricky rhythms underlining harmonious vocals to form catchy-yet-complex pop hits. Newman’s first solo album, The Slow Wonder, took a different slant on his style of songwriting, delving in heavier electric guitar and some country twang to accompany simpler rhythms and melodies than TNP offered. Challengers reflected a more introspective attitude from The New Pornographers, focussing more on acoustic sounds and single melody lines. And now Get Guilty finds Newman moving his side project towards the New Pornographer’s trademark complex rhythms and melodies, while dressing down the guitars to the acoustic sensibility of Challengers. It basically feels like the two projects are meeting in the middle – sounding to my ears like two parts of the same whole rather than distinct projects in their own right. And honestly, I couldn’t be more content with it (double the TNP is double the fun!), as both albums show the softer, sweeter side of what Newman does best.
For comparison’s sake: