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Tomorrow Forever, Matthew Sweet’s fifth album of new material in this century, the first since 2011’s Modern Art and 14th overall in a recording career spanning more than three decades, is teeming with his signature sounds and ongoing preoccupations. But the expansive 17-song work—available June 16, 2017 in CD, double 180-gram-vinyl LP, CD and digital configurations via Sweet’s own newly launched Honeycomb Hideout imprint through Sony’s RED Distribution—takes these familiar elements into previously
unexplored territory, reflecting profound changes in his life. Essentially,Tomorrow Forever contemplates a knotty epistemological question: Does what is real extend beyond what the consciousness can readily grasp?
In early 2014, Sweet, his wife Lisa and their cats moved from their longtime home in the Hollywood Hills to their native Nebraska. They bought a house on the outskirts of Omaha, 40 miles from Matthew’s hometown of Lincoln, where his elderly parents still lived. The 80-year-old house was spacious enough to accommodate Matthew’s high-end studio—formerly Lolina Lane, now Black Squirrel Submarine—and vast array of instruments, as well the Sweets’ collection of big-eyed art and Matthew’s pottery-making tools.
Soon after relocating to Nebraska, Matthew’s team launched a Kickstarter fund in order to crowd-fund his next album, but before he’d even gotten the project started, life happened. As he was getting acclimated to his old/new surroundings, his mother passed away, spending her difficult final days surrounded by her family. Never before had Matthew experienced the loss of someone near to him, and it stopped him in his tracks. But an extended period of grieving was followed by one of the most fruitful sustained bursts of
inspiration in his prolific career.
“When I started cranking out stuff, I did as many as I needed for that time,” Matthew recalls. “Before Ric [Menck] showed up to play drums, I got 10 or 15 ideas going, and then we played those. I eventually recorded 38 songs, and all of them are as pro as the ones on the record. There are things that for one reason or another didn’t make it, but a lot of them go beyond what I wound up using. So in a way I was trying to bottle the essence of something that was even more sprawling and full of moodiness. The record is actually
pretty simple compared to what went through my head while I was making it.”
With Matthew, the creative process is never calculated; ideas fly into his headspace, he grabs them as they come and takes a ride, not knowing the destination. In this flurry, they multiplied like Star Trek tribbles, eventually taking a coherent form in his mind.
Purely in terms of its guitar payload, the new album is a breathtaking Fourth of July fireworks show, with axes trading volleys from the left and right channels in old-school-stereo fashion, as Sweet breaks out a lineup of killer players, each sporting a distinct style, like a modern-day Moby Grape or Buffalo Springfield. They shine on incandescent tracks like “Trick of the Light,” the power-pop instant classic that opens the album, the bristling, Zuma-esque midtempo churner “Bittersweet” and the glorious four-guitar jangle fest
“Music for Love.”
Guitarists Jason Victor (Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3, Dream Syndicate), Val McCallum (Jackson Browne), John Moremen (The Orange Peels), Gary Louris (The Jayhawks) and Paul Chastain (Velvet Crush) blaze away in various combinations alongside the rhythm section of Menck (Chastain’s partner in Velvet Crush) and Sweet on bass and guitar; from song to song, he adds keys and Mellotron to his lead vocals and backing harmonies. The Bangles’ Debbi Peterson drums on four tracks, and The Zombies’ Rod Argent brings his elegant piano touch to “Haunted,” which unfurls with a “Layla”-like majesty, and “Hello,” in which Matthew straps himself into his time capsule for another journey to and from the future.
Start Time: 8:00