Matthew Sweet

Blue Sky on Mars

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    5
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On Matthew Sweet's early-'90s power pop trilogy of Girlfriend, Altered Beast, and 100% Fun, Richard Lloyd's angular, unpredictable lead guitar functioned as a gritty counterpoint to Sweet's pretty melodies and tales of lost love, giving the music an unexpected depth. Sweet parted ways with Lloyd before he made Blue Sky on Mars, and his departure greatly affects the music. Without Lloyd, the songs are more predictable and the band, even with Brendan O'Brien's warm production, sounds rather canned. However, the music isn't the only thing hurting Blue Sky on Mars -- the songs themselves are considerably more uneven than before, lacking the effortless hooks of its three predecessors. Sweet manages to turn out a handful of good songs -- the swirling "Where Do You Get Love" has an infectious chorus, and "Come to California" has a sunny, Californian feel -- but the simple problem is that most of the songs are colorless, and that comes as a major disappointment after the inspired songcraft since Girlfriend.

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