If we needed yet another gauge on just how shitty the past year was, Matthew Sweet—one of the reigning modern kings of feel-good power pop—just released his darkest album yet.

Catspaw, his fifteenth studio album, finds Sweet in a melancholic mood (much like the rest of the world in 2020), but it’s also one of his strongest, guitar-centered albums ever. The sweet-as-honey melodies are still there, but the music is a little slower and the vibe a little darker. Sweet, who usually has others take the lead on guitar in the studio, takes on the role himself with this outing and the results are impressive.

The album’s title is a pretty strong prelude to what follows. “I learned the term from a 1967 Star Trek episode I adored as a kid,” said Sweet. “Recently I heard ‘Catspaw’ again and started looking up definitions. I really connected to the idea of the certain and deadly inevitable—the pounce. Don’t ever forget life is totally cruel and the catspaw is already coming down on you.”

But all is not doom and gloom here, thanks in big part to Sweet’s charming vocals and lyrics that give at least a glimpse of optimism and hope, songs like the defiantly triumphant “Challenge The Gods” or “Hold On Tight.” The brilliant “Give A Little” is also a track destined for a future Sweet ‘Best Of’ compilation.

The past twelve months have been a real punch in the throat, but Catspaw provides a brilliant distraction from the pain.

Purchase Catspaw here.

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1 Comment

  1. Charley Hale Reply

    Best guitar playing of his career here, seems to me. And as to dark, well, Matthew is the guy who wrote “The Ugly Truth”, the most spectacular song about dying that I believe anybody’s ever written.

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