Carl Newman is the middle man in the New Pornographers. With Neko Case bringing the sweet and Dan Bejar providing the sour, Newman falls squarely in the center. He’s a power-pop mastermind who isn’t afraid to get weird once in a while. He’s also the band member with the most traditional hooks and sharpest sense of pop history. On his second solo album, he reflects on pre-Sgt. Pepper ’60s rock ’n’ roll with revisionism and enthusiasm. Opener “There Are Maybe Ten or Twelve” boasts an orchestral bulge that gives way to relative sparseness on “The Heartbreak Rides.” And on “The Palace at 4 a.m.,” Newman goes literary deep. But Get Guilty is also an occasionally fussy record, revealing the studio stitches that help hold it together. Instruments are multi-layered, voices chime in harmony, and nearly every song features a space-filling crescendo. It’s a labor of joy that spills over onto every note.
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