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12 by Matthew Sweet (2002 - 2021)

Sometimes a huge part of an artist's career has not been summarized. Case in point...

Matthew Sweet has a couple of compliations out there, but neither of them cover the past couple of decades, a span that has seen him release 8 albums of original material and 3 albums of covers. 

I followed Sweet's career religiously early on, with my ardor gradually diminishing after the magnificant one-two punch of In Reverse (1999) and The Thorns (2003) That's not to say he hasn't produced some great work since then, it's just that it requires bit of effort to pick out the gems. Here's my college try:

(Two of these albums are not available on streaming servies, so here's a slightly modified version of the playlist on YouTube.)

1. "I Can't Remember" (The Thorns, 2003)
The Thorns was a rootsy, close-harmony early-aughts version of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, featuring Shawn Mullins (of "Lullaby" fame) and Pete Droge (of "If You Don't Love Me (I'll Kill Myself)" fame) and Sweet. Their one and only album was pretty darn good, and this particular song is a lovely heartbreaker.

2. "Wait" (Kimi Ga Suki *Raifu, 2003)
It's amazing how much melody and movement is packed into these 2 and a half minutes.

3. "In My Time" (Living Things, 2004)
Time is a recurring theme throughout Sweet's work. In fact, you'll find at least one song on each album that tackles the topic in some form or another.

4. "Tomorrow" (Living Things, 2004)
5.  "Around You Now" (Sunshine Lies, 2008)
Not ashamed to admit that I picked both of these songs because they could have slotted easily onto In Reverse, with their stacked harmonies and sparkling production.

6. "She Walks the Night" (Modern Art, 2011)
As a whole, Modern Art was a bit too off-kilter for my tastes, but this song hits the *ahem* sweet spot of being unconventional while maintaining its melodic appeal.

7. "You Knew Me" (Tomorrow Forever, 2017)
Tomorrow Forever arrived six years after Sweet's previous original album - he'd previously never gone more than fou years - but it was a pleasant reminder that the old guy still had a few tricks. This particular track is a welcome return to the countryish bent of Altered Beast.

8. "Hello" (Tomorrow Forever, 2017)
A piano-driven tune featuring more evidence of his obsession with time: "Hello, I'm from the future, from exactly when I'm not sure."

9. "Years" (Tomorrow's Daughter, 2018)
10. "I Belong to You" (Tomorrow's Daughter, 2018)
Both Tomorrow Forever and its companion Tomorrow's Daughter display lots of evidence of the deep study of 1960s and 1970s pop music Sweet did for his Under the Covers albums. These two especially sound like amalgams of your dad's collection of 45s.

11. "Split Mind" (Wicked System of Things, 2018)
Wicked System of Things was a Record Store Day-only release and has become somewhat obscure. But it's worth seeking out; this chiming tune is one of the highlights.

12. "Drifting" (Catspaw, 2021) 
Listetning to this midtempo beaut gives you the same sensation as its title.


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