The devil spits hot fire
Onto the crying peasants
In the hideous depths
Of the Wal-Mart
OK, fine, these lyrics aren’t anywhere at all in The Slow Wonder
, but wouldn’t it be awesome if they were? Just imagine sweet, angel-voiced A.C. Newman unleashing an unholy death metal squeal in the midst of a goofy indie pop song. It would be so...unpredictable. So unlike the rest of this album, which follows standard verse-chorus-verse structure and has extremely predictable melodies throughout. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as a few excellent songs come out of it, but it is a more than a little obnoxious to know how a song goes and be able to tell where it’s going as you listen for the first time.
A good way to describe the overall sound of The Slow Wonder
is by calling it a mediocre New P0rnographers record. Every aspect of every song could fit right onto an album of theirs, which makes sense since Newman is basically the leader of the New P0rnographers. Why should his solo career be any different?
Maybe because no one wants to hear the New P0rnographers minus a few helpful and important members? Neko Case is the most hurtful loss, as she is replaced by a nasal, high pitched female voice that always seems to provide migraine-inducing harmonies at just the wrong times. Another loss is whoever helped write the New P0rnographers slow material. As hard as A.C. Newman tries (and it’s obvious he tries very hard), his ballads always come out as repetitive, simple songs that, quite honestly, aren’t worth listening to. “Most Of Us Prizefighters” uses two chords for its entirety, A.K.A. long past their welcome. “Come Crash” is an attempt at an epic ballad that just doesn’t work due to the underlying feeling of lightness in all of Newman’s work.
Another flaw in The Slow Wonder
is the lack of cohesiveness from one part of a song to the next. The verse of “The Town Halo” has a very dark and foreboding cello backing it up, which randomly drops out for a bubblegum pop chorus of Newman singing the song title. “The Battle For Straight Time” has a harmony drenched, guitar filled chorus, but a verse that runs on a grungy riff and is dissonant to a point where it becomes difficult to listen to.
All mistakes aside, Newman still proves he knows how to write a catchy and upbeat pop song. “Miracle Drug” features quick guitar stabs over a latin acoustic progression and is filled to the brim with addictive hooks and catchy lyrics. “35 In The Shade” has an epic, album-closing type feel piano line backing up Newman’s sugary sweet vocals for the verse, which leads into a descending piano scale for the chorus. Pure and memorable indie-pop genius.
With The Slow Wonder
, A.C. Newman shows the world he sort of needs The New P0rnographers to really get him going (oooh innuendo), but that he can make a few songs that stand out on their own, and even get up to the New P0rnographers level of pure, power pop ownage.
- A few outstanding songs
- Newman’s voice is addictive
- More mediocre or bad songs than good
- Slow songs are atrocious