This latest solo album from the New Pornographers frontman is the most direct and personal yet, with Newman chronicling recent life-changing events - the death of his mother and the birth of his son - and their associated confusing emotions, with deft elegance. He maintains his knack for pop melody while also aiming squarely for a more 70s-inspired, multi-timbred, singer-songwriter vibe, seasoned with a little folk and the occasional rock riff.
He's at his most touching on tracks like I'm Not Talking - addressing the fragility of happiness, the fear that comes with fulfilling your dreams, or You Could Get Lost Out Here, where he's choosing to hold on to hard-won love rather that get lost in disillusionment. There's Money In New Wave is a delightful whimsical message to his son, and album closer They Should Have Shut Down The Streets captures the bewilderment of losing a loved one brightly.
Newman has certainly found his way with words, and tackles some worthy subjects here, but the reason this album doesn't soar is the over-layered arrangement of some tracks, which somehow blocks out the space for emotional resonance, and Newman's voice itself doesn't quite carry the range of light and dark needed to really pluck at the heartstrings.