Dueling pornographers

Two solo albums by members of the same group emphasize the appeal of experimentation

Keri Carlson

The New Pornographers is a band made up of musicians who all have other bands and solo projects. Though this group is the most well-known of any of their projects, The New Pornographers take long breaks in order for everyone to dabble with other musical muses.

While the band rests, two members have recently put out solo Records: Carl Newman as A.C. Newman, and Daniel Bejar as Destroyer.

Here’s the basic breakdown: Fans of the New Pornographers will surely love A.C. Newman, while only some will like Destroyer. Just as some New Pornographers haters might enjoy Destroyer.

A.C. Newman – the primary song writer for the Pornographers – maintains his style of unrelenting catchy pop hooks. “The Slow Wonder” plays much like a Pornographers’ album in the way it reminisces listening to ABBA “Gold” – one amazing melody after another, covered in layers of jangly pianos and harmonies.

Not to say A.C. Newman sounds like ABBA. He actually sounds closer to the Kinks with his sweetened rock ‘n’ roll.

His songs are not doing anything especially new or revolutionary, but his hooks are so infectious that “Slow Wonder” sounds refreshing and unlike any record you already own.

Conversely, Destroyer seems more like a true solo project. Daniel Bejar sounds as though he locked himself in his bedroom or basement for months eating only pretzels and drinking Tab cola. And it results in genius insanity.

Bejar begins “Your Blues” with a cry of, “Oh notorious lightening, yes I had to ride you and trash the crystal jets they kept in storage, inside you, I was told never to question it.” His cartoonish voice is high and excitable with a slight lisp – like David Sedaris singing.

Bejar keeps “Your Blues” fairly sparse, at least until the end of songs where his slow build-ups explode. But everything on the album sounds simple. Much of the music sounds suited for an early 1990s video game soundtrack. This only adds to the crazy, loner, mad-scientist vibe.

For the two solo New Pornographers, it is not a question of which one made the better album. A.C. Newman’s resembles New Pornographers’ songs so closely, it would be fair to say Daniel Bejar is using his break a bit better on Destroyer.