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Power-pop auteur Matthew Sweet returns with his first new album in six years

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Last month veteran pop auteur Matthew Sweet dropped his first new album in six years with Tomorrow Forever (out on his own Honeycomb Hideout label), which was culled from sessions that produced more than twice as many songs as what ended up on the sprawling 17-track epic. In 2014 Sweet and his wife moved back to their native Nebraska following years away, setting up a home studio where the singer began to stockpile material with the help of trusted colleagues like drummer Ric Menck, bassist-guitarist Paul Chastain, and guitarist Jason Victor; on a few tracks he’s joined by veterans like Rod Argent (Zombies), Debbi Peterson (Bangles), and Gary Louris (Jayhawks). In most ways the new album offers no surprises—and given the sort of guitar-driven pop Sweet has been churning out for three decades, that’s good news. Over taut, loping grooves and seriously meaty guitar riffing, Sweet serves up melodies as tender as they are memorable, drawing inspiration from the Beatles up through the heyday of British pub rock and 70s AM radio hits, with a sound that’s become timeless enough to render such temporal distinctions moot. As usual, most of the songs deal with romantic entanglements and disappointments, but here and there Sweet delves into more vulnerable topics, as with “You Knew Me,” a song he penned following the death of his mother and not long after he returned to Nebraska. The song unabashedly addresses a complicated dynamic, where the singer rues the encounters he failed to have with her: “Won’t you come back to me / I’ll tell you everything.” It’s a decent effort, though in the end it all feels a bit bloated, with too many midtempo jams dominating the proceedings. But I can’t really point to any subpar songs, and heard individually, every tune holds up. He’s joined by Menck, Chastain, and Victor.   v

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