With stalwarts Ric
Menck, Dennis Taylor and even Fred Armisen (sort of…) along for the ride.
By Blurt Staff
Matthew Sweet has inked in Sept. 20 to release Modern Art (Missing Piece Records), the follow-up
to 2008’s Sunshine Lies.
According to the label: Modern
Art features 12 new compositions of Sweet’s trademark wistful, yearning pop
that recall some of Sweet’s touchstones: the Beatles, Beach Boys and Big Star.
“She Walks the Night” is reminiscent of early-period Byrds, while “Ladyfingers”
stomps along with the authority of T. Rex. Other standout tracks include the
swirling, psychedelic “Oh, Oldendaze!,” the ruggedly assertive “Late
Nights With the Power Pop,” the acerbically witty “Evil By Design, Goodbye
Nature” and the sweetly soulful “Modern Art.”
For this record, Sweet discarded his normal process of
laying down ideas as they came to him and shaping them into songs. Instead, he
allowed these spontaneous kernels of music dictate the direction of each piece.
“In the past,” he says, “I’d make deliberate changes of structures and
normalize things, but this time, I wanted to make it abstract but still human
and natural. That approach gave it a super-personal feel that was really
melodic and musical but still different, so I ran with it. And in an odd way,
this record feels more like me than anything I’ve done.”
Modern Art also is
steeped in the time-honored analog tradition. Mastering engineer Glenn Schick
employed his unique “triple analog” process, whereby the masters for the album
were cut to virgin lacquer acetates and meticulously transferred back to
digital, resulting in a rich, full-bodied, “vinyl” sound. “It’s not too loud,
because we wanted to allow the dynamics to breathe,” Schick explains.
Longtime musical cohort Ric Menck (Velvet Crush) does
all the drumming on the album (except for “Ivory Tower,” which is built on a
random drum pattern supplied by Sweet’s friend, actor/musician Fred Armisen). Dennis
Taylor handles guitars.
Sweet on the album’s title: “I first wrote down the phrase
‘modern art’ as a possible song title, and it struck a chord with me because of
its similarity to ‘modern heart’ – like a stare-down between the strange
newness of time and the living and feeling-filled but surely doomed heart.”