I've been a fan of Matthew Sweet's music ever since I first heard his 100% Fun album in 1995. Since that time, he's been one of my favorite musicians, and I've come to appreciate his ever evolving sound. He has never quite gained the superstar status I feel his talent ought to warrant, but I'm not here to begrudge modern music tastes today. Rather, I'd like to share my thoughts on Matthew's latest release, Modern Art.
It has been a few years since Matthew Sweet released a new album (not counting the Under the Covers albums he did with Susanna Hoffs), but it was well worth the wait. I pre-ordered the special Vinyl release of Modern Art from Amazon, and as soon as I played it through the first time, I knew we had another hit album on our hands!
This album is very retro in its sounding, and I don't mean retro-Sweet. While different than his previous recordings, you hear a lot more of his musical influences (The Beatles, Neil Young, the Byrds, etc...) coming through in the work. If you went back in time and put this record on the market in 1970, it would have fit right in with the top albums of that time period. That's a plus in my book, since much of my preferred music comes from that era.
Baltimore: I'm not sure why, but this song really has me hooked. It may be the best one on the whole album.
She Walks The Night: A great retro-sounding track. If you like 60's music, you'll dig this gem.
Another Chance (Bonus Track): This is a great little song. Why was it relegated to bonus download status? It should have made it onto the album!
Album's Weak Point:
Ivory Tower: For some reason, this song just grates on my nerves. It is the one track I dislike from this collection.
I wasn't really keen on his Sunshine Lies release a few years back, but Modern Art makes up for that tenfold. This is easily his best album since In Reverse, and it deserves more positive attention. Download a couple of the tracks, and see what you think.
To Vinyl or not to Vinyl:
I have a whole stack of old LP's on a shelf right behind my desk, so it was a personal choice to go for Modern Art on vinyl. It's rare that you can buy a "new" record in this manner today, so there was a certain thrill in purchasing it in this format. It was a few dollars more, but it was worth it for me, and it came with a promotional card that allowed me to download the whole album (plus bonus tracks) onto my computer!
However, there are a couple of things that disappointed me about the vinyl release. It came as a 2-record set, but the 13 songs they include on the records could have easily fit on a single, double-sided LP. It sucks to have to get up and turn the record over after 10 or 12 minutes of play. They only included 1 of the 4 bonus tracks on the LP, and it confounds me why they didn't just put all 4 bonus tracks on the record! They would have easily fit, and it would have justified the 2-record set.
That said, I don't regret the vinyl purchase at all, especially with the free download. I can listen to the songs in digital quality all I want, and put the records on the turntable when I'm in the mood. The best of both worlds!
5-Star album all around!