Album review by KevW
Allan Carl Newman is now comfortably into his mid 40s and like many other alternative heroes of a similar age (Teenage Fanclub, Spiritualized, Neil Halstead etc.) this maturity hasn't effected the quality of his output by any means, but it has taken away some of the youthful edge and experimentation in favour of subjects such as "birth, death, happiness and sadness, chronicling a time in my life where all those things had to learn to coexist side by side". 'Shut Down The Streets' marks the fourth solo outing for AC Newman and although the New Pornographers man is in more reflective mood he maintains a great sense of melody accompanied songwriting of a high calibre; it's not simply a record that will resound with others who've reached a similar point in life.
If you're looking for the powerpop numbers of old you'll still find them, although they may not quite be as carefree as before. 'I'm Not Talking' is like the combined work of Ben Folds (a regular comparison, most prominent here on the ace 'Encyclopedia Of Classic Takedowns') and Neil Young, a description that fits much of the album, with just a little indiepop mixed in here and there and the faint undertow of The Beach Boys. It's often the arrangements that make the songs; if you were to take the bare bones 'Do Your Own Time' or 'There's Money In New Wave' they'd work well enough, but some with added decoration they sparkle that little bit more. There are faintly psychedelic tinges to the barbershop Americana of 'You Could Get Lost Out Here', a sound that suits him remarkably well.
Surprisingly it's some of the more introspective and biographical songs that provide the highlights, 'Strings' is a particularly impressive example and the poppy 'Hostages' could be a good starting point for those who prefer to sample the odd track before diving headfirst into a full album, or maybe the mellow yet slightly anthemic 'Wasted English'. 'Shut Down The Streets' gives the impression that AC Newman is more than comfortable with his music; this is confident, accomplished and sounds like the work of a man gracefully hitting his stride, although it's never smug. Another great attribute to this album is that it will have a fairly universal appeal. By the time you reach the closing pair of 'The Troubadour' and 'They Should Have Shut Down The Streets' the temptation is there to go back and play the whole thing again. It may be mature and thoughtful, but it's jam packed with instantly likeable alternative pop tunes with it.
Free download: 'Encyclopedia Of Classic Takedowns'
AC Newman's website
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