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Matthew Sweet - Sunshine Lies

  by Geraint Jones

published: 5 / 10 / 2008

Matthew Sweet - Sunshine Lies
Label: Shout ! Factory
Format: CD


Engaging tenth solo album from acclaimed singer-songwriter Matthew Sweet, which after some stuttering recent years, proves to be a partial return to some of the glories of his past

Providing an integral part of the soundtrack to my 1990’s - Matthew Sweet and in particular ‘Girlfriend’, his breakthrough third album released in 1991, remains an all time favourite. Throughout the 90’s via the likes of ‘Altered Beast’, ‘100% Fun’ and ‘Blue Sky On Mars’ while not quite capturing the still career-high of ‘Girlfriend’, they often came close. Sweet finally saw out the decade and his most fruitful period with the exceptional ‘In Reverse’, probably his most ambitious set to date. Since then however his stuttering solo career has proved less productive, Sweet having pursued more collaborative efforts, most notably ‘Under The Covers Vol.1’, his 2006 set recorded with the Bangles' Susanna Hoffs. ‘Sunshine Lies’, his tenth solo album, though only his third since ‘In Reverse’ offers a welcome chance to get reacquainted. Retaining the auspicious services of previous collaborators like Ric Menck (Velvet Crush), Richard Lloyd (Television), Ivan Julian (Richard Hell & The Voidoids) and Greg Leisz, expectations are high but what of the end result? Shy of any genuinely stand-out tracks like ‘Girlfriend’ (admittedly an absolute classic - the late Robert Quine’s guitar pyrotechnics are much missed) ‘Divine Intervention’ or ‘Thunderstorm’, despite a few clunky rockers – Sweet’s attempts at a more testosterone-fuelled rock snarl on ‘Room To Rock’ being less than convincing, and the opener ‘Time Machine’ is something of a mess; any ambition soon swamped by an overly cluttered arrangement, on balance ‘Sunshine Lies’, can still be regarded as a good Matthew Sweet album. Finding his groove most successfully on the more laid back material, Sweet finds his voice and strength when he’s at his most restrained. You can’t fault the band throughout and for guitar fans, the sinewy lines of Julian, robust incisiveness of Lloyd and fluidity whether on 12 string of pedal steel of the ubiquitous Leisz, there are treats here aplenty. Among the highlights the likes of ‘Byrdgirl’, ‘Flying’ and ‘Around You Know’, there’s much to enjoy for fans of guitar driven melodic pop. Although Sweet rarely approaches the pinnacle of his abilities, as a pop craftsman it’s still very good to have him back. And with a little improvement in match fitness, some touring here would be very welcome, for example, as well as an increase in productivity, I don’t doubt he can come up with something spectacular again in future.

Track Listing:-
1 Time Machine
2 Room to Rock
3 Byrdgirl
4 Flying
5 Feel Fear
6 Let's Love
7 Sunshine Lies
8 Pleasure Is Mine
9 Daisychain
10 Sunrise Eyes
11 Around You Now
12 Burn Through Love
13 Back of My Mind

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