Like pop homunculi, the Kinks obsessives who have crowded up indie scenes for nigh half a decade are missing something essential in the souls. Their chirpy lilts and out-of-place Britishisms exist in a habitat largely bereft of weight, wit or variance. New Pornographers honcho A.C. Newman (a.k.a. Carl) has transcended his peers before, and now proves he can do so on his own, sans Neko Case's gritty foil to his clipped Ray Davies croon. Remarkable for a side project, much less a solo debut, The Slow Wonder bears as many rough-cut gems as either New Pornographers album. It's a power-pop record for those of us who, unlike power-pop freaks, don't have an inborn imperviousness to sugar-induced nausea. As ever, Newman salts his melodies with enough sharp, frugal riffs, absorbing lyrical angles and hard percussion to blow his lightweight contemporaries back into the ether whence they came.