The frontman of indie stalwarts The New Pornographers quietly releases a solo album every now and again. The Slow Wonder in 2004, Get Guilty in 2009, and now Shut Down the Streets. This album is, quite simply, a masterpiece. From start to finish it is diverse, memorable, poppy, melodic, all killer, no filler.

From the computer bleeping beginning of "I'm Not Talking" the song never lets up, building one glorious section into another. Oboes, bells, and a smorgasbord of percussion help present Newman's self-effacing affirmation and honesty: "I like the way things are."

Honesty is a great word that doesn't often seep into music discussion anymore. When listening to this album, however, it seems a relevant, if not an appropriate way to describe Newman's voice, his stories, the lyrics. Dealing with death, love, our place in the world, our purpose. I had the pleasure of seeing AC Newman at the Duck Room, and that performance only strengthened that view in these songs. The instrumentation is everywhere, sometimes in strange but beautiful combinations ("Do Your Own Time" or "Strings") and each song has a little different flavor to it. Neko Case sings along on many songs, and she complements Newman's voice quite well. The atmosphere is quite palpable, for example, "You Could Get Lost Out Here" is the literal sound of wandering around aimlessly. "Encyclopedia of Classic Takedowns" is a perfect pop rock song with a solid shuffle, and awesome and personal lyrics: "Are we judged here by the things we say or is it just the noise we make?"

Shut Down the Streets is laid back, with a little bit of a 70's vibe, but it is by no means lazy. Each song is so textured that multiple listens are compulsory. A good example is "Wasted English" which starts a little slow, but the melody of the chorus is so strong, you'll soon find the minimal instruments to be more than enough to carry the tune.

I suppose that is the goal of this album: To show that life is meant to be the sum of its parts. Many simple things doing one thing together, beautifully. Stop and listen. Stand still and look at it. Shut down the streets.