Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Matthew Sweet

  • Girlfriend [Zoo, 1991] A-
  • Altered Beast [Zoo, 1993] ***
  • Son of Altered Beast [Zoo, 1994] A-
  • 100% Fun [Zoo, 1995] B+
  • Blue Sky on Mars [Zoo, 1997] Neither

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Girlfriend [Zoo, 1991]
Sweet's turn of phrase and tone of voice don't add much to the store of human knowledge about romantic love, and he's not much better on God or war. So he lets guitars define the ineffables for him--his stormy acoustic, Lloyd Cole's workaday electric chunka, and Greg Leisz's choked steel provide a forum where Richard Lloyd and Robert Quine can testify. And though Lloyd shouldn't be forgotten--his slash and roll jumpstart the record--it's Quine's aural kabala, longer on syntheses of ache and soar than on terrible beauty or abstract calm in this context, that contains the wisdom Sweet needs. Just don't expect a translation. A-

Altered Beast [Zoo, 1993]
he's so great with the help he should hire some lyricists ("Dinosaur Act," "Knowing People") ***

Son of Altered Beast [Zoo, 1994]
Interim, tour-keyed EP product--one remix, one B side, one live Neil Young cover, four live remakes and outtakes from the decidedly subepochal Altered Beast album. Happens to include his contribution to the even more subepochal No Alternative comp, which it blew away the way it would have blown Altered Beast away if only Sweet had taken the risk. Except on the remix, no Robert Quine--Richard Lloyd is the guitar hero, and he'll do. Because even though the whole record is basically an accident, this is the way live rock and roll is supposed to sound these days--inspiration on the edge of chaos. A-

100% Fun [Zoo, 1995]
Frustrated because I couldn't grok Bluroraimeemann even after isolating their tunes and turns of phrase, I turned to another pop album I'd never gotten and had a revelation. Not a new idea--what a difference a band makes is old theory by now. Just an experience--this particular band at the moment of this recording, two or three or four guitars layered into densely striated sludge with shiny ribbons of metal sticking out. Perfect for accustoming confused young adults to his sensible truisms about romantic commitment. B+

Blue Sky on Mars [Zoo, 1997] Neither