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Matthew Sweet: Sunshine Lies

Matthew Sweet: Sunshine Lies

Label:Shout! Factory
Release Date:2008

By Michaelangelo Matos | Posted 8/20/2008

Reissuing a deluxe edition of a classic work, you can hope, will have a positive effect on a flagging artist. For example, two years ago Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend, a power-pop classic from 1991, was given the bonus-disc-and-gewgaws-galore treatment. Only die-hards need that much of a good thing, of course, but it doesn't seem like too much to hope for Sweet, after taking a long look back at his most inspired work, to be reinspired by it.

Those hopes don't last especially long while listening to Sunshine Lies, Sweet's self-produced 10th solo album. The stormy feel and neurotic charge of Sweet's prime '90s work (from Girlfriend to 1995's 100% Fun) are still here, as are the layered guitars that mark those records out. (Sweet's band includes guitarists Greg Leisz and Pete Phillips and keyboardist-guitarist Paul Chastain.) And hearing the zigzagging riffs, chunky acoustic rhythm playing, and squalling, all-over-the-place solos can, at times, make things sound like they're back on form.

The problem, as it usually is with power pop, is the songs. There's something really off-putting about listening to a 44-year-old man whining, "I need a room to rock in" ("Room to Rock"), or even the far more upbeat (but still juvenile) likes of "Let's Love." And it's too bad Sweet the producer didn't make Sweet the singer try a little harder in places: "Flying" could have been as crunchy-chewy as it aims to be if the vocal didn't sound so nervous and ragged. But even when Sweet's voice takes an evener keel, Sunshine Lies remains inessential.

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