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Golden Days Before They End

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Album Review

At first or second listen, this sounds unnervingly like a solo album that Ray Davies might have made circa the early 1970s. There's that same witty melodicism, and a similar resigned yet bemused air to Suggs' vocal delivery. It manages, though, not to sound like an inferior rewrite of Kinks cliches, and upon closer inspection, reveals Suggs to be more his own man than might initially be suspected. Suggs favors far more abstract lyrics, for one thing, imbued with rather creepy images of vultures, skeletons, and dreamy disorientation. In addition, the music is more speckled with Americana than what Davies and the Kinks played, as heard on the enchanting minor-keyed mandolin strums and desert guide slide that anchor "The Rambler Vs. the Vulture/Devils Dance," managing to strike a mood between Appalachia and Tex-Mex balladry. Like few other ambitious musicians, singer-songwriter-identified and otherwise, working in indie rock circa 2000, Suggs knows how to use understatement instead of trying too hard or opting for an in-your-face approach. On pure musical terms this album merits high praise indeed, with an attention to detail and variety — tinkly off-kilter pianos, judicious use of lap steel and bells (both played by Suggs), a surfeit of melancholy hooks — that brings out the best in the songs. That really helps when the lyrics are so enigmatic as to often defy interpretation ("Farewell to a Tightrope Queen" is an exception). Yet Suggs' words are effective in establishing a sense of loss and bewilderment tinged with the surreal, retaining a subtle humor and grace that never descends into mopiness, and that's quite an accomplishment.

Customer Reviews

Let's get visceral

If you are the kind of person who constantly feels the need to attach yourself to a definable trend or an easily recognizable pattern, you'll probably hate this record. This record is very deceptive in its simplicity, and in its underbelly, it harbors considerable depth, and the highs and lows associated with the emotional interpretations of being a human being. Matt Suggs' work and history speaks for itself, when you consider Butterglory, and the recently released inaugural album by White Whale. This is a songwriter who fully found his voice for the entirety of an album, and pierced through the conduit of equipment and instruments to document the FEELING of what it is to be alive; in terms of joy AND suffering. Isn't that what all great albums do?

Biography

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

After doing four albums as half of the indie pop duo Butterglory in the '90s, Matt Suggs made an impressive solo debut with Golden Days Before They End in 2000. Suggs' wry, laconic delivery is quite reminiscent of that of the Kinks' Ray Davies, as are his melodic and quirky tunes. He's not a total Davies knockoff, though, with more of an American roots feel to his...
Full Bio
Golden Days Before They End, Matt Suggs
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