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Matthew Good – [Album]

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Sunday, 22 September 2013

Say what you want about Matt Good's personal politics and attitude, no singer is more capable of making the small and even inconsequential events in life seem like the most fantastic (and sometimes even life-affirming) observations like he is. When he gets it right, Good is the unheralded patron saint of catharsis and can win the undying adulation of fans who will then wait years and through the innumerable “passably okay” albums which are released in between the great ones; he's proven it with the releases of Beautiful Midnight, White Light Rock & Roll Review, Lights Of Endangered Species and Last Of The Ghetto Astronauts. Those fans who have waited patiently for another landmark album as only Matt Good can make them will be overjoyed to hear what comes on Arrows Of Desire, the singer's sixth solo album.

As so many of his landmark albums do, Arrows Of Desire opens up with distorted guitars blazing and Good's heart mired in “cold despair” on the title track. The singer's voice has a beleaguered waver about it and calls images of a traveler returning wearily home from battles hard won, and those who have been waiting for fresh Good will happily take to that vocal approach as well as the seemingly endless sustain of his guitar as it sweeps through a lead figure which isn't so much a solo as it is a simple melodic support. Fans won't be at all disappointed by that, and they'll start to settle in as “Via Dolorosa” follows up and provides an image of a spider drowning in a kitchen sink for a fantastic bit of pathetic fallacy. That image with the minor chords attached is exactly what fans want, and they'll be settled in and won as Good threateningly snarls, “Wait 'til I get my head on straight” like both a promise and a threat.

From there, the self-criticisms masked as threats and wrapped in rock songs keep coming as “Had It Coming” gives way to “We're Long Gone,” and Good proves he's still got the chops to rock the hell out of the devout and maybe win a few new disciples to his banner too. When he's on, Good is dead on with acerbic observations like “There's a spider in the kitchen sink/ Turn the tap on, watch it panic” (from “Via Dolorosa”) and “Cruelty free? Why heavens me – I never thought I'd see the day” (from “Had It Coming”) but, even better, he's only ever a fraction of a hair off when he's off. This time, there are no terribly dour moments to weigh the record down (the heaviest is “Hey Hell Heaven,” but the lighter-than-air guitars buoy the song and keep it from really dragging) so listeners don't have the opportunity to really see any of the shine fade off the songs.

At the point when “Letters In Wartime” gently eases listeners out to close the record and leave them feeling a little fuzzy as they go, those who came along with Matt Good for Arrows Of Desire will suddenly realize that the singer has done it again. He has released another album capable of satisfying longtime fans, but it's also capable of winning new ones and will have them all coming back for repeated trips through the album's run-time. It – like Beautiful Midnight, White Light Rock & Roll Review, Lights Of Endangered Species and Last Of The Ghetto Astronauts before it – is a classic album.

Album:

www.matthewgood.org/
www.soundcloud.com/matthew-good
www.facebook.com/matthewgoodmusic
www.twitter.com/mattgood

Download:
Matthew Good – Arrows Of Desire – “Had It Coming” – [mp3]

Album:

Arrows Of Desire
will be released on September 24, 2013 via Frostbyte/Universal Music. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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Matthew Good – [Album]

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Monday, 19 October 2009

At this point, someone needs to ask: “What happened to Matt Good ten years ago?” Since Beautiful Midnight came out in 1999, the singer has abandoned any semblance of the unhinged, seething and manic voice that was the calling card of songs like “Hello, Time Bomb,” “Everything Is Automatic” and (to a lesser degree) “Apparitions” in favor of embarking upon an extended examination of love lost, hard feelings, isolation, lonesome nights and stark naked introspection to be completed at an undisclosed date. That isn't necessarily a criticism mind you – the four studio albums released since Beautiful Midnight, while most regularly dour, have further expanded Good's authoritative voice and refined his craft – but there is no sign of light at the end of the tunnel on Vancouver either which might be regarded as cause for concern.

The upside is that, as dark as Matt Good has become, he has found a way to make his unhappy ruminations sound more epic and sadly beautiful and wry on Vancouver. From the opening of “Last Parade,” Good strums carefully and articulates a heartbreak and loss of self so poignantly that it will hit listeners like a dead-blow hammer shot to the gut and leave them breathless, and also feel a sort of awe at the delicacy of the treatment and raw honesty of it. That's a thing rarely found in rock. There is love there, and desperation too – but also a maddening sense of futility, that nothing good can come of any of it, but it needs to be played out.

From there, Good examines the world around himself and the inherent darkness he always seems to see, but attempts to distract himself with scenes of beauty to no avail; immediately after “Great Whales Of The Sea,” the singer dives to the depths of depression and self-loathing with the tellingly-entitled “US Remains Impossible” and “On Nights Like Tonight” which both find Good starting to reach the point where he's getting angry again, but also with a noticeable defeat in that tenor of his that implies to listeners that it's all academic; there is no escape from this place that the singer has painted himself into, it's only a matter of articulating the story to its conclusion.

Some will say that everything after that point in the album's run-time is a matter of running through the motions for Good and, while it is true that the devil lurks in the details of these ten songs, the redemption is in the dalliances away from form. The poetic license taken in “A Silent Army In The Trees” – as Good crosses heartbreak, children, the military and some hope for change with a fear of a violent confrontation is jaw-dropping; there's a style, design and imagery usage seldom (if eve) found in pop music here and there is a certain “Holy Fuck” factor in the fact that Good even uses the devices he's employing in the correct literary context too. It's barely rock at all; more like pop informed poetry. The same trend continues through “Fought To Fight It” and that may just be to prove that the form wasn't a fluke but, between those two tracks (as well as the far less poetic, far more rockist take on “The Vancouver National Anthem” which seals the promise that Matt Good is still physically capable of turning the volume up effectively) they signal a new and salacious set of possibilities for the singer – those songs intermingle the angry and unhappy voices that Good won his audience with over the last fifteen years, but also add a very cerebral component that long-time fans knew he was capable of, but have never heard in song before.

That new voice and approach will keep older fans glued tight to Vancouver and have them holding their breath for what could be next. With the hook set, Matthew Good has re-tapped into a curiosity he's avoided while he's spent his time expunging demons for the last few records – with Vancouver, he'll have people rooting for him and waiting for him to win. For the first time in a while, that seems plausible again and, even better, he's still doing it on his own terms rather than knuckling under to make a play for some imagined pay day.

Artist:
www.matthewgood.org/

www.myspace.com/hospitalfacilities

Album:

Vancouver
is out now and available here as a Canadian import on Amazon .

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