There are albums that are good that you might not like. And there are albums that you like that aren’t all that great.
Matthew’s Everybody Down could very well fit in the latter category.
Purveyors of What’s Important — i.e., critics — will most certainly latch onto the album’s professional studio sheen, the band’s alt-rock songwriting, singer Brian Sweeney’s Thom Yorke-falsetto and the music’s vaguely emo-ish trappings as faults.
And as well they should.
Everybody Down can’t escape some level of calculation, a familiarity with the way the guitars ring and buzz, the way Sweeney earnestly croons, the way the songs veer between sparse verses and big choruses.
But like that old proverb about trash and treasure, Matthew’s rank on your personal grate meter is a matter of taste. These same faults don’t sound nearly as bad as they could have been.
Sweeney, thankfully, doesn’t subscribe to the Emo School of Whiny Singing, which makes those unison power chords — a hallmark of most Weezer-inspired, post-Pinkerton rawk — far more bearable. Plus, those ringing arpeggios on “The Darkest Night”, “This Time” and “In Your Car” sound more early 1990s than early 2000s.
The title track does an excellent job capturing a listener’s attention right from the start, and following tracks — “In the Wonder”, “Steams” — keep the momentum going, alternating between rockers and slow songs with ease.
In other words, this album is easy to like for the exact same reasons other folks will feel ambivalent toward it.
And maybe that’s why this review is haltingly good — Everybody Down sounds exactly like the album that would find much favor for a very specific (and cool) audience, and it makes no qualms about it. Among the critical press, that’s whoring.
Matthew’s music is likeable because it’s well-written and well-performed. It’s not going to change the history of rock ‘n’ roll, but at the same time, it’s not a crass attempt to milk a cash cow. An eagar attempt, maybe — not a crass one.
Go ahead. Listen to Matthew, and don’t be afraid to like it.
P.S. Matthew is a band, not a person.