Matthew Sweet - Sunshine Lies 12"
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For somebody who played a large role in reviving guitar-driven power pop in the '90s, Matthew Sweet spent a good chunk of the new millennium avoiding the six-string. Apart from 2003's Japanese love letter Kimi Ga Suki * Raifu, Sweet walked on the soft side in the years since 1997's Blue Sky on Mars, crafting psychedelic song cycles, Beach Boys tributes, and an album of sweet duets with Susanna Hoffs. Sunshine Lies returns the guitar to the center, pushing the playing of Greg Leisz, Ivan Julian, Richard Lloyd, and Sweet to the front and relying on arrangements that feel lean even when they're each graced with subtle flourishes of layered, overdubbed harmonies, Mellotrons, and backward tapes. Although the album's punch is a shade too pristine and precise, lacking the gangly ragged heart of Girlfriend, this is easily Sweet's liveliest record since the '90s, giving his sweet, sighing harmonies a candied warmth and his rockers some real bite.