By Andy Greenwald
Updated January 21, 2009 at 05:00 AM EST

Carl “A.C.” Newman, who spends his days fronting the New ?Pornographers, is a pop maximalist of the first order, fond of cramming blissful hooks, outlandish instrumentation, and lyrical non sequiturs into three-minute songs like so many clowns into an overstuffed car. But on Get Guilty, his second solo album, Newman ratchets down the excess while retaining his talent for killer, off-kilter ? melodies. The gorgeous “The Heartbreak Rides,” with its somber “yo-ho” chorus, could be about pirates driving to Los ? Angeles — but it’s mostly about Newman bolstering his rep as pop’s most infectious confectioner. B+

Download This: Listen to songs from the new album on the singer’s MySpace