Matthew Sweet

Tomorrow Forever

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Matthew Sweet departed his adopted hometown of Los Angeles in 2013, choosing to return to his native Nebraska. There, he built a new home studio and began stockpiling songs, some partially inspired by his relocation, some playing as a tribute to his recently passed mother. He recorded more songs than necessary for a single album, so he set about creating a 17-track record from 38 finished tunes. It may consist of nothing but the cream of the crop from his last half-decade, but the resulting Tomorrow Forever -- his first collection of original material since 2011's Modern Art -- does feel a bit unwieldy as it slides and sprawls over the course of 65 minutes. Sweet anchors Tomorrow Forever in the muscular power pop that's been his calling card since 1991's Girlfriend, relying on twisting guitar lines and layered harmonies. By this point, some 26 years after the original's release, this sound is as classic as the '60s records that provide Sweet with his internal inspiration, and it's weathered well, partially because he's found ways to mellow and expand this signature. Although some melancholy flows through these songs, Tomorrow Forever doesn't ripple with angst the way Sweet's alt-rock records did; whatever sadness there is, it feels weary, not angry. He's also dabbling in a couple of styles that are new to him, including a bit of lazy country-rock on the aptly named "Country Girl" and restrained disco on "Come Correct." Mostly, though, Tomorrow Forever relies on Sweet's tried-and-true tricks, from an album-opening blast of barbed hooks ("Trick") to shambling Neil Young-inspired jams ("Off the Farm"), circular psychedelia ("Pretty Please"), and unrepentant jangle pop ("Music for Love"). All of these sounds may not surprise, but they're comforting in their familiarity, particularly because Sweet's execution as a writer and producer remains precise.

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