AC Newman is a crafty songwriter with a gift for likeable orchestrations, surprises and great, hooky melodies. Here are some of his top moments, in this book:
5) “All For Swinging You Around” –Electric Version
This is a wonderful song that I’ve never heard discussed as a highlight of this record. I would maintain that it is the most likeable melody on Electric Vision. It’s an irresistible high point of AC Newman charm. Also, if features Neko Case on vocals, and she’s a force that can’t be discounted.
For that matter… 4) “The Electric Vision” –Electric Version
Some have critiqued AC Newman for featuring a chord change every two seconds on the dot. Yes, but that’s one of his things. That would be like critiquing Baroque music for having motoric melodies, or the Strokes for their ‘subway’ strumming style. I think this is one of the tracks that best showcases his knack for rapid changes. It’s charming and fun, and the rush of harmony is an exhilarating ride.
3) “Use It” — Twin Cinema
OK, I’m not sure if this is underrated or not. It’s a gorgeous track. Again, though, it’s built on AC Newman’s restless way with constant chord shifts in odd places. This album fared a lot better than ‘Electric Version’, probably in large part because there was some assured risk taking, and they broke up the patterns of AC Newman’s songwriting voice that he seemed to have come into on the former record. There is probably no better example of that than in this song where the music suddenly cuts out with a snare hit, and they sing “four beats from soft, and get set to exercise your right..”
2) “The Bleeding Heart Show” –Twin Cinema
This song comes up slow, but ends with one of the best and most anthemic of all New Pornographer’s choruses.
1) “Drink To Me, Babe, Then” — The Slow Wonder
This features a beautiful, Beatles-esque melody on the verse, and a simple, punchy chorus. Like the great Beatles songs, it sports an inarguable melody, and a wonderful way with harmony. Also, a whistling / guitar solo. Can’t be beat. Also, it incorporates the whistling into its closing in a great way. It’s just a great, concise pop song that refills you with optimism for short pop songs in general.
That’s one of the inexplicable things that good AC Newman songs do, is just fill you with giddy enthusiasm for no great reason. It’s largely the power of his uncanny melodic sensibility. I hope this list can bring you some of the same enthusiasm these songs have brought me.