1993, Music

Altered Beast (1993) by Matthew Sweet

When I was a teen, I didn’t get Matthew Sweet. He had the odd video on Much Music and those videos made no impression on me. But some people in the media (and probably even some people I knew) spoke about him as if he was…someone, as if he had done something in the time before I was aware of music, that was important, so we better pay attention to this latest video.

Since then, I always assumed he must have been in some band or something. But I never really thought more about it. And so I’ve come to this record, the first of his I’ve heard, with just the vaguest idea of who he is and what he’s done, formed when I was a teenager watching music videos.

This turns out to be a good thing, because if I knew more about him, maybe I wouldn’t have been pleasantly surprised. Sweet has a good sense of melody, which I think I could have assumed given the little I knew of his reputation. And his lyrics are fine. (Sometimes they are better than fine.)

But the thing that really pleasantly surprises is the muscle on some of the tracks. (Apparently this was controversial in 1993! Imagine grit in music being controversial!) Now, not every song has muscle behind it, but enough that it doesn’t sound all the same. (And I will say there’s a general diversity in the arrangements which I wouldn’t expect in a power pop record.) But there’s enough here that some of the songs are more power than pop (well, just a tad), which is appealing to a rockist like me.

Good stuff. Pleasantly surprised.

7/10

All songs written by Matthew Sweet; with the exception of Track 8, “Intro” excerpts from Caligula.

  1. “Dinosaur Act” – 4:05
  2. “Devil with the Green Eyes” – 4:43
  3. “The Ugly Truth” – 3:18
  4. “Time Capsule” – 3:56
  5. “Someone to Pull the Trigger” – 3:55
  6. “Knowing People” – 4:25
  7. “Life Without You” – 2:18
  8. “Intro” – 0:46
  9. “Ugly Truth Rock” – 2:58
  10. “Do It Again” – 3:33
  11. “In Too Deep” – 3:54
  12. “Reaching Out” – 4:00
  13. “Falling” – 4:50
  14. “What Do You Know?” – 4:27
  15. “Evergreen” – 4:23

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