Matt Sharp LP
As ex-bassist of Weezer and frontman of The Rentals, you could be forgiven for having a small skip-load of preconceptions before hearing Matt Sharp’s self-titled debut album. However, any thoughts of another geekster pop-punk offering of the previous ilk are quickly thrown out of the window within seconds of hearing the opening bars of the opener, ‘All Those Dreams’.
It’s clear from the start that Matt is in a reflective and melancholy mood, choosing to shun the up-tempo electro rock which made his name for the sort of laid back acoustic ambient sound which incorporates both basic blues and a grungy sort of folk within its many twists and turns (or, as NME called it, nu-gaze).
‘All These Dreams’ underlines this new direction beautifully with its delicate piano intro, atmospheric synth, and slide guitar combining to create a relaxed musical expanse for Matt’s reflective vocals to fill. The acoustic guitar, while not always present, appears at the right times to provide, what could be a very loose song, with a degree of structure and pace. In fact, as the album progresses it becomes apparent that this fluid formula is applied to many of the other tracks which, considering there are no drums on the entire album, works with a fair degree of success.
One such track where this is certainly not the case is arguably the album’s highlight, ‘Goodbye West Coast’. Being fused together with all the best bits of those American blues/rock road tunes, ‘Goodbye West Coast’ manages to sound shiny and fresh due, in the most part, to the fact that the usual piston stomping tempo is slowed right down, giving all the instruments time to breathe. As a result the acoustic and slide/picked guitar combine really well, leaving room for a series of delightful background piano runs to come to the fore as the track progresses. Add to this Matt’s Dylan/Petty-like vocals with a simple but memorable chorus and you have a great track on your hands.
Other highlights include the single ‘Just Like Movie Stars’, which again uses the energising acoustic guitar to provide the structure and backdrop for Matt’s poignant, yet hushed, vocal delivery; ‘Let Me Pass’ which, along with ‘Goodbye West Coast’, represent the most up-tempo tunes of the album; ‘Before You Go’, with its haunting backing vocals and church-like organ and the eight minute epic that is ‘Some Days’.
On the whole the lyrical content of many of Matt’s songs have a clear subtext of drawing a line under his musical past and, considering that the remaining members of Weezer are still cashing in on the back of the ‘Blue’ album, released over 10 years ago, this is no bad thing. In fact, by releasing an album which is almost at the opposite end of the musical spectrum, Matt’s musical reputation can only, and justifiably, be enhanced.
The album is released in the UK on 24th January 2005.
Written by Habert on