Matthew Sweet - Time Capsule: The Best of Matthew Sweet

Matthew Sweet
Time Capsule: The Best of Matthew Sweet

(Volcano)

First Appeared at The Music Box, November 2003, Volume 10, #11

Written by Michael Karpinski

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Matthew Sweet is a man out of time. Always has been. Doesn’t seem to give a damn. Cool. Rock on.

Certainly these days, with every band and its brother looking to ride the emo-pop or garage-rock rockets to the rock ’n‘ roll Promised Land, Sweet — with his unashamedly lush productions and clean, infectious melodies — seems, shall we say, "endearingly" out of place. In tune, and, therefore, out of tune with the times. "Antiquated," even? Nah. Fine wine. Keeper of the flame.

That would be the Beatles’ flame, to begin with. Passed to Badfinger. Fanned by Byrds. Built to bonfire by Big Star. Borrowed, in sparks, by the Carpenters and countless other hook- and harmony-laden, AM-radio staples. Later, turned to inferno by Neil Young. R.E.M. Elvis Costello.

Okay, so Sweet wears his influences on his sleeve, naked to the day. So what? Shakespeare had his sources, too — and you don’t hear anybody going ape-shit on his ass, now do you?

Okay then, let’s go back. 1991. Good year for music. Nirvana: Nevermind. Primal Scream: Screamadelica. U2: Achtung, Baby. Amos: Little Earthquakes. On and on. On and on.

Matthew Sweet: Girlfriend.

Title song: big hit. Cool video. "Anime," they say. Turning Japanese. Turning mouth-breathing teen-geeks to goo.

But here’s the thing: After Girlfriend, Matthew Sweet didn’t die, disappear, start farming minks, or seek seclusion in Sweden. He kept making records. 1993. 1995. 1997. 1999. You could set your watch by the guy. Altered Beast. 100% Fun. Blue Sky on Mars. In Reverse. (With 100% Fun and In Reverse as good or better than Girlfriend? Blasphemy! But maybe.)

Bottom line: Dandy efforts, all. Solid pop. Baroque? Chamber? Call it what you will. Pet Sounds-esque? Todd Rundgren revisited? Hey, whatever floats your boat. But honestly, just think: "Consistent." "Filler-free." "Hooks up the yin-yang." And then you’ll have it.

Okay, so now you have it. But you say that you’re lazy. You say that you’re strapped for cash and that KaZaA’s pop-ups have got you hot and bothered. Not to mention: Life’s a bitch and then you die, so you’d just as soon set flame to the wacky-weed and wait for the next Weezer.

Fine. Very fair. But while you’re waiting, why not give Time Capsule: The Best of Matthew Sweet a try? It covers everything for which we’ve been tooting horns here — five albums; 18 tracks (two of them new).

The selections are solid. I’ve Been Waiting is here. So are Sick of Myself, We’re the Same, and, yes, inevitably, Girlfriend. Smog Moon might have been nice. Future Shock? Come to Love? Beware My Love? Well... like Shakespeare said after somebody else said it first: "You can’t have your goo and eat it, too."

So, you see, all I’m saying is: You sorta gotta love this Matthew Sweet. The man has stood tall. Held ground. Borne witness. Grunge. Punk. Bubblegum. Rap. Metal. Rap-Metal. Those slightly intimidating Lillith womyn. They come. They go. He stays. Flies his ’70s-smiley-face, flood-pants freak-flag high. Don’t like it? Tough. Up yours. Get offa my cloud. It’s time for me to fly. starstarstarstar

Time Capsule: The Best of Matthew Sweet is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!

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Ratings

1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!

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Copyright © 2003 The Music Box