Matthew Sweet emerged in 1991 as the leading figure of the American Power Pop revival. Like his British counterparts Teenage Fanclub, Sweet adhered to traditional songcraft, yet subverted the form by adding noisy Post-Punk guitar and flourishes of Country-Rock, resulting in an amalgam of the Beatles, Big Star, R.E.M., and Neil Young. Recorded with guitarists Richard Lloyd and Robert Quine, Sweet’s third album, Girlfriend (1991), became a word-of-mouth critical and commercial hit with its title track reaching the Top Five on the Modern Rock charts.
Matthew Sweet’s Newest Album
Tomorrow Forever, Matthew Sweet’s newest album, released on June 16 this year, in a recording career spanning more than three decades, is teeming with his signature sounds and ongoing preoccupations. The expansive 17-song work takes these familiar elements into previously unexplored territory, reflecting profound changes in his life. Essentially, Tomorrow Forever contemplates a knotty epistemological question: Does what is real extend beyond what the consciousness can readily grasp?
In early 2014, Matthew Sweet, his wife Lisa and their cats moved from their longtime home in the Hollywood Hills to their native Nebraska where his parents still lived. Soon after relocating, he launched a Kickstarter in order to crowd-fund his next album, but before he’d even gotten the project started, life happened. As he was getting acclimated to his old/new surroundings, his mother passed away. Never before had the singer-songwriter experienced the loss of someone near to him, and it stopped him in his tracks. This extended period of grieving was followed by one of the most fruitful sustained bursts of inspiration in his prolific career.
Purely in terms of its guitar payload, the new album is a breathtaking Fourth of July fireworks show, with axes trading volleys from the left and right channels in old-school-stereo fashion, as Matthew Sweet breaks out a lineup of killer players, each sporting a distinct style, like a modern-day Moby Grape or Buffalo Springfield. Guitarists Jason Victor (Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3, Dream Syndicate), Val McCallum (Jackson Browne), John Moremen (The Orange Peels), Gary Louris (The Jayhawks) and Paul Chastain (Velvet Crush) blaze away in various combinations alongside the rhythm section of Menck (Chastain’s partner in Velvet Crush) and Matthew Sweet on bass and guitar; from song to song, he adds keys and Mellotron to his lead vocals and backing harmonies. The Bangles’ Debbi Peterson drums on four tracks, and The Zombies’ Rod Argent brings his elegant piano touch to “Haunted,” which unfurls with a “Layla”-like majesty, and “Hello,” in which Matthew straps himself into his time capsule for another journey to and from the future.
Matthew Sweet’s fans came through big time with donations to the Kickstarter fund which enabled him to optimize every aspect of the project. “Because of the generosity of the people who contributed, I wanted to make sure that everything on the record was really good and solid,” Matthew says. “They’ve been waiting for it for a long time, and I feel like I owe it to them.”