Back in the 1990s, Matthew Sweet oozed catchy, power-pop hooks that rang with guitar-laden fuzz and dripped of the psychedelic pop of the 1960s. His trio of albums at the start of the decade – 1991’s Girlfriend, ‘93’s Altered Beast, and ‘95’s 100% Fun – instantly stamped him as the new face of pop-rock singer-songwriters. But just as fast as he made his entrance, he seemed to exit. Despite continuing to release albums over the past 10 years, he has remained off the musical radar, which all goes to make his new release, Sunshine Lies, slightly disappointing.
Sunshine Lies starts with a 30-second noise snippet that moves across the spectrum of weird, sounding like a Beatles sound-collage outtake before slowly dissolving into the opening track, “Time Machine.” Much like that snippet of noise that opens the album, Sunshine Lies takes it time to finds its footing as well. The first few songs lack Sweet’s distinct guitar that was such a driving component of his best work in the ‘90s. It is not until the fourth song “Flying” that Sweet seems to remember his guitar and finally delivers one of his classic, screechy solos. The album struggles to find a real cohesive feel, bouncing from retro sounding, hippy-dippy psychedelia to the harder edge middle-ground that Sweet found when he first combined those two divergent sounds.
With Sunshine Lies Sweet looked to return to his early 90s form, and while the album contains the signature swirling-psychedelic-guitar-pop that defines his best work, it doesn’t hold up as well when compared to that early trifecta of albums.
Sunshine Lies is out now on Shout Factory.