Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs continue their parade through pop's past with Under the Covers, Vol. 3, a third volume that brings the duo into the '80s. This just so happens to be the decade when both singers began their professional careers. Hoffs went supernova with the Bangles in 1986, the same year Sweet released his debut Inside on Columbia, and while it'd be another half-decade before Matthew experienced his own flush of success, the two are steeped in the underground pop culture of the '80s, where the records of the '60s were celebrated and refracted through the Paisley Underground, R.E.M., and even the one-hit-wonders dotting the landscape of MTV. Under the Covers, Vol. 3 pays tribute to all these sounds and more, balancing MTV hits ("Save It for Later," "They Don't Know," "Our Lips Are Sealed," "Trouble") with songs that were staples on college radio in the '80s: R.E.M.'s "Sitting Still," the dB's "Big Brown Eyes," the Bongos' "The Bulrushes," XTC's "Towers of London," the Smiths' "How Soon Is Now," and Echo & the Bunnymen's "Killing Moon." Sweet and Hoffs remain true to the sweet, slightly wistful, guitar-heavy aesthetic they etched out on the earlier albums and it fits these robust melodies, placing an emphasis on the songcraft and the duo's harmonies. While they never reinterpret the songs -- sometimes the arrangements are stripped-down, as on Roxy Music's "More Than This," but the attitude remains the same -- Sweet & Hoffs identify why each of these tunes remains beloved, by audiences large or small, and the faithful, heartfelt nostalgia combined with the pair's participation in the scene makes Under the Covers, Vol. 3 the best trip down memory lane the duo has yet made.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine