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Living Things

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Album Review

Released in September 2004, Living Things is Matthew Sweet's first official new album since 1999's In Reverse. Prior to it, he had released Kimi Ga Suki * Raifu the prior year, intending it as a Japanese-only release, but it proved popular among both fans and critics, so it was released in the States in tandem with Living Things, but the two records couldn't be more different. Where Kimi Ga Suki is an updated spin on the straightforward, guitar-heavy Girlfriend, the closest relative to Living Things in Sweet's catalog is the lush, layered In Reverse, but where that record was brimming with premillennium tension, this is warm, relaxed, and sunny. So sunny, in fact, that it could reasonably be called Sweet's version of a Beach Boys album, a sentiment that's strengthened by the near-omnipresence of Brian Wilson's occasional co-writer Van Dyke Parks on the album. He plays keyboards, organs, and accordion on all but one track here, giving the album a sun-kissed psychedelic flair, occasionally reminiscent of the Beach Boys' post-Pet Sounds albums, but lacking the infuriating twee preciousness of recent excursions of such Brian Wilson-influenced '90s indie groups as the High Llamas. Sweet doesn't change his songwriting style for Living Things. He grafts this summertime psychedelia onto his typically satisfying power pop, occasionally opening the tunes up into trippy interludes, such as the coda to "Sunlight." Since Sweet's songs still are instantly identifiable as Matthew Sweet tunes and since the album gets stranger and better as it progresses, Living Things is not quite as great a departure as it reads, nor is it as immediately likeable as Kimi, but it is nevertheless one of his most consistent and accomplished albums, sounding better with each repeated play.

Customer Reviews

Sweet Things

In the spirit of "In Reverse" & "Kimi Ga Suki" we see yet more experimentation on the part of Matt that has turned out yet another great album. This album brings the instrumental power-house of "In Reverse" back to the forefront with the spirit of other great hits like "100% fun" & "Girlfriend." Like much of Matt's work, the album is full bodied and textured. "You're Not Sorry" is of the same breed that spawned Girlfriend & you'll never forget "Season Is Over." This is the album we've all been waiting for! Matt has consistently delivered yet another enjoyable album.


Born: October 6, 1964 in Lincoln, NE

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

After spending the '80s as an unappreciated jangle pop guitarist with Oh-OK and Lloyd Cole, as well as a solo artist, 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...
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