After more than 25 years of performing, Matthew Sweet is still quite comfortable with his role within the music industry.
“I'm happy to fit in somewhere in any genre. I don't feel like it hampers me, and to some extent I think I do step outside of it, but I love a lot of classic power pop stuff," Sweet said.
Power pop has long been the label attached to the work of Matthew Sweet, and with his latest album Modern Art, it’s grown into a flashing neon sign seal of approval. Modern Art finds Sweet delving deep into the history of pop, gently recalling the earliest affects of 60s A.M. pop without losing the modern power that has lent Sweet his venerable reputation.
But Modern Art isn’t another Sweet album. Some may call it a comeback—a return to form—but others, including Sweet, know it is more.
"I think it's a little more abstract than some other things of mine. I tried to do things that would throw me off a little, keeping the musicians in the dark a little. It was actually very spontaneous, but I messed around a lot with structure, and left lots of happy mistakes," Sweet says of his latest album.
However, Sweet also acknowledges Modern Art as grounded in his roots.
“Some of it is based on my original songwriting tapes where I'm still wandering and exploring a bit,” Sweet says.
Rather than rest on his laurels, Sweet has created a new album brimming with some of the freshest, rawest power pop to grace the genre in nearly a decade. Yet, if you happen to catch him live this go-around (for Indy residents, your opportunity is Tuesday at Radio Radio), you’ll be hard-pressed not to notice that Sweet will be reveling in the past. Not only is Sweet touring behind his new album, it also happens to be the 20th anniversary of Girlfriend, Sweet’s 1991 breakthrough album. And if you have your ticket, you’ll hear the landmark album in its entirety.
“I think, for me, it is a great experience to revisit it. It feels kind of fresh for me even though so much time has passed. I'm surprised but it feels very comfortable, though it takes a lot out of me each time," said Sweet of his landmark album.
Girlfriend was one of many outstanding albums that came out in 1991.
“It was a special moment where college radio sort of turned commercial and alternative was born. It seemed like it would last forever, but so much has changed. There were a ton of great radio stations at the time, and room for lots of kinds of artists,” Sweet recalls.
That thrill is still alive with Girlfriend’s return to Sweet’s repertoire.
A large part of Girlfriend's appeal is Sweet’s backing band, which included New York City guitar legends Robert Quine (Richard Hell and the Voidoids) and Richard Lloyd (Television).
“Both of them added important aspects, I let them run free and they did a great job. We were all friends and having a good time doing something we thought was cool. There were no expectations," Sweet said.
Would Sweet be tempted to revisit other albums in the same manner as Girlfriend?
“I have no plans to do it again, but I guess you never know!" he said of touring other popular albums like Altered Beast and 100% Fun.
Here’s to hoping in the coming years we are all witness to live tours for other seminal Sweet albums and much more power pop goodness from the mind of Matthew Sweet.