It's unclear whether Carl "New Pornographer" Newman intended his pseudo-pseudonym as an homage to musclehead A. C. Slater of Saved By The Bell fame or merely as a subtle attempt to distance his solo debut from his lauded band. The latter seems silly, since The Slow Wonder showcases the songwriting idiosyncracies - intense wordiness, off-kilter metaphors, soaring harmonies, a slightly jarring cadence and halting phrasing - that characterize Newman's Porno contributions. Sarah Wheeler makes like Neko, and pals John Collins and Dave Carswell work their shiny studio magic. That said, the wry redhead takes more risks as a solo flyer, paring down the Pornos' tooth-itching power pop for more languorous arrangements that let him tackle Tom Pettyish roots rock and prep-school doo-wop. While the middle stretch lags, it's all closer in tone to Mass Romantic than to Electric Version, which is ultimately a good thing.