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Modern Art (Bonus Track Version)
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Defiantly unorthodox, but often playfully so, Modern Art features 12 new compositions of Sweet's trademark wistful, yearning pop that recall some of Sweet s touchstones: the Beatles, Beach Boys and Big Star. ''She Walks the Night'' is reminiscent of earlyperiod Byrds, while ''Ladyfingers'' stomps along with the authority of T. Rex. Other standout tracks include the swirling, psychedelic ''Oh, Oldendaze!,'' the ruggedly assertive ''Late Nights With the Power Pop,'' the acerbically witty ''Evil By Design, Goodbye Nature'' and the sweetly soulful ''Modern Art.''
Longtime musical cohort Ric Menck (Velvet Crush) does all the drumming on the album (except for ''Ivory Tower,'' which is built on a random drum pattern supplied by Sweet's friend, actor/musician Fred Armisen). Dennis Taylor s deft and urgent guitar lines serve as a running commentary to Sweet s introspective singing. Finished by mastering engineer Glenn Schick, Modern Art promises to be another trend-setting release by Sweet.
Top Customer Reviews
If you're looking for yet another version of "Girlfriend" you will be sorely disappointed. However, these songs reveal new layers of richness on each play and rewards those with the patience to really listen (more than once). There is definitely a trend toward melancholy here (When Love Lets Go, A Little Death, Modern Art), but it's also not without it's share of great rockers (Ladyfingers, Late Nights With The Power Pop, and the Byrds-like, She Walks The Night).
Granted, some of the experiments here don't always pay off, but what we have here is a mostly wonderful album for those with an appreciation for the abstract in music and the patience to give it a real listen.
By the way, if you think 100% was the last good Matthew Sweet album, you should probably stay away or buy the deluxe edition of Girlfriend instead.
I understand the need for artists to evolve and mix things around so that material doesn't seem stagnant/boring and that there is artistic growth. However, Modern Art, although a viable musical experiment, just doesn't work. It doesn't feel genuine or honest. It seems as if he decided to go into the studio and jam with a few hooks and let the song meander into whatever. Call it free form musical structure, but I think it just an unlistenable mess. There is definitely potential in some of these songs, with a few strong melodies, but unfortunately, he doesn't carry them into fruition and instead, they evolve into a meandering mess. Other Matthew Sweet fans may argue that listeners just don't get Modern Art, due to their absence of musical maturity; personally, I don't buy that notion. I heard the same arguments by fervent fans over REM albums like Up, Adventures in HiFi and Around the Sun, and guess what? Those albums are unilaterally considered REM's worst albums. And unfortunately, that's what we have here, folks: Matthew's worst album by far. I hope he doesn't end up in 4 album funk like REM and slowly fade away from even his most loyal followers.
Some albums take me a while to like (such as Blue Skies On Mars) and some I loved instantly (100% Fun), Modern Art on first blush is one I am going to have trouble really liking. The production and effort put forth by Mr Sweet feels more like a very polished demo recording. Some of this might be the barebones style of the album, not many hands on deck.
As for the sound, Modern Art is mostly, to me, more of a slightly more rock version of Gordon Lightfoot. I think Sunshine Lies sort of pointed the way here, but I was hoping Mr Sweet would snap back to a sound I like more. Whereas past efforts have always bridged that rift between rock and pop it feels like a mix between pop and 70's easy listening. There is not a track after giving a once over that I really remember and I might not put this album on full or exclusive rotation in my library (I am old fashioned in that I do like listening to full albums on a regular basis).
The quality of production is top notch and sports a different sound, which after referring to the liner notes is it was digital to analog back to digital. I am not sure if this makes Modern Art better, but it has a slightly different sound which I can appreciate.
All said and done I am not sure who this album is for, is it going to attract new listeners? No, it is not that good or distinctive of an album. Is it going to make long term fans of Matthew Sweet fans happy? Speaking for myself on this mark, no. Is it a bad album? No... but it is one that leaves me confused and disappointed. I wish I could like it more, but Modern Art is an album that doesn't return the favor.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Enjoyable, in fact my favorite since '100% Fun', but nowhere the power pop I love best from MS. Lucky for me he gave us so much in the Sid n Susie 'Under the Covers' series with... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Scott Wally
A great track off a great disc by one of my favorites. I recommend the disc to anyone who loves power pop or retro psyhcedelic musicPublished on February 21, 2013 by D. Dai
Put me in the column of reviewers perplexed by alleged fans of Sweet who find this record un-Sweet-like or whatever.
I like Matthew Sweet; I like this record. Read more
I have a sneaking suspicion that those who wrote negative reviews of Modern Art simply do not have either the musical knowledge and wherewithal or the maturity to recognize what... Read morePublished on November 22, 2011 by Dr. David
Modern Art is a seamless organic marriage of 8 Miles High and Revolver, and the beautiful thing about it is it doesn't feel recieved: it is as much a product of Sweet's talent and... Read morePublished on November 4, 2011 by Kevin Harvey
I can only give 4 stars because I've only previewed several cuts when he streamed the album, and have heard a few on the radio & I must admit that hearing them as single cuts on... Read morePublished on October 11, 2011 by S. Moore
Like Sunshine Lies --- takes a few listens to get under your skin. One of the most influential power pop artists on the Planet.Published on October 8, 2011 by Jeffrey A. Obrien