Matthew Sweet – [Album]

Thursday, 18 September 2008

With so many triumphs and disappointments – so many excellent successes and spectacular disappointments – dotting his career that have always depended upon how many pieces his heart was broken into at the time – it seemed perfectly reasonable to believe that Matthew Sweet would enjoy a perfectly average, respected but not lauded career for as long as he chose to keep releasing records. Sunshine Lies illustrates, however, that time catches up with us all.

Matthew Sweet’s newest offering is unquestionably the greatest disappointment any listener could have feared would have come from the singer for a variety of reasons. First, after the shock of the weak opening track, “Time Machine,” subsides and “Room To Rock” begrudgingly starts to pick up steam, it becomes apparent that Sweet’s voice has totally left him. Where once his brassy pipes promised pop ecstasy and seldom failed to deliver (remember “Girlfriend” and “Sick Of Myself”?), the singer’s true tone has been replaced with an incredibly nasal and powerless drawl not unlike Peter Cetera and Christopher Cross used to subject audiences to that at no point succeeds in breaking out or being memorable. Likewise, Sweet’s incendiary guitars have been left home in favour of fairly static rhythm figures or, when he really “pushes” his power, he achieves the worst, most bloated goo committed to tape since BTO took care of business and coasted on “Let It Ride” thirty-three years ago.

Worse still (how disappointing do we have to get?), the pop structures that won Matthew Sweet his audiences in the first place have all been junked in favor of a series of tepid, stretched vowel adorned, easy listening fodder that everyone thought (happily) had been buried with the demise of AM radio in the Eighties. Songs including “Born To Rock,” “Let’s Love” and “Turn Around Now” mark a consistent decent down the tubes and there are moments (like the recurring line, “I gotta get my wits about me” in “Sunrise Eyes” where the singer fails to do any such thing) that Sweet seems to know his time is growing incredibly short; half the time, the attempts at even trying to inject some energy into these damnable proceedings seem half-hearted and sloppily half-assed.

So why did Matthew Sweet bother releasing Sunshine Lies? Was it a matter of necessity? Did he need to finish out a contract? Whatever the reason, given the tenor of the music business these days, you’ve got to go big or go home. This is by no stretch of the imagination a big effect – though it is incredibly laboured – and so Matthew Sweet would have been better served staying home.


Sunshine Lies is out now on Shout Factory. Buy it NOW on


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