The ‘Holy Grail’ of popular music may well be the three minute pop song (I hear Rush fans shouting ‘that’s way too short’ and Ramones fans (particularly the ones who think they only make T-shirts) probably just shouting).
For a while (approximately 11 months and 3 days) in the early 1990s I considered that some of the most perfect pop songs around were on Matthew Sweet’s ‘Girlfriend’ album, particularly the 2 minutes 55 seconds perfection of ‘Day for night’ the opening track on side 2.
There are other pleasures to be found here too, the opener, ‘Divine intervention’ has a guitar sound that knocked everything else around at the time (and I really do mean everything else) into a very firmly cocked hat. ‘I’ve been waiting’ just misses being a perfect pop song by 36 seconds.
I have other Matthew Sweet albums, but on most he eschews the melodic loveliness in favour of noisy rockiness and they just don’t come up to the standard of the tunes on ‘Girlfriend’. (I love the word eschew – that may be the first time I’ve ever used it though!).
Incidentally, I always think of this album as a companion piece to John Grant’s ‘Queen of Denmark’. This may be because they’re both fantastic in a fragile kind of way. Or it may be the presence of ‘Winona’ on ‘Girlfriend’ and ‘Sigourney Weaver’ on ‘Queen of Denmark’. Who knows?
The only time that Matthew ever came close to this kind of quality again was on the self-titled album by The Thorns, which merits a very quick spin on my CD player every once in a while.
Label – Zoo Entertainment.
Year - 1991
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