February 10, 2020

Matthew Sweet - Modern Art (2011)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Alternative Rock
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© 2011 Missing Piece Group
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
No longer even feigning an interest in the modern world or perhaps the world outside his four walls, Matthew Sweet hunkers down with his vintage, semi-hollow bodies and 12-strings, channeling them through vintage amps in a heartfelt ode to the past that’s perhaps ironically called Modern Art. If there is modernity, it’s of the mid-century modern variety, where clean lines and tiki lamps constitute a happening pad, where each side of a vinyl LP lasts not much longer than 20 minutes. Sweet doesn’t ape this aesthetic precisely, he shuffles it around to his own liking, fully aware that this is the product of “Late Nights with the Power Pop,” one of the songs here that doesn’t have as bold a hook as expected. Actually, most of Modern Art emphasizes texture over song, Sweet -- supported by longtime friend and colleague Ric Menck, drummer for Velvet Crush -- creating a swirling, candied haze of guitars and harmonies. Often it sounds like a Southern Californian Beatles filtered through the Byrds, but Sweet doesn’t strictly stick to the sweet stuff, he does a nifty, heavy blues with “Ladyfingers,” sends up pastoral folk with “My Ass Is Grass,” and flirts with homemade orchestrations on the title cut. Since he’s operating on a small scale, none of this soars or rocks -- the way In Reverse or Girlfriend did, respectively -- yet the charm of Modern Art is its intimacy; Matthew Sweet is splicing together his obsessions into a collage where the sources are apparent yet the end result is his own.

tags: matthew sweet, modern art, 2011, flac,