Matthew Sweet is one of those artists who labor under a burden of their own making: a great album (in his case, 1991’s Girlfriend) that they’ve been unable to equal since. This fall, he gave us Living Things, which is suffused with his customary pretty harmonies; bright, poppy guitars; and gentle, busted-heart lyrics. But in the end, it’s merely another nice try, charmingly forgettable. Fortunately, Sweet also came out this fall with Kimi Ga Suki, an album he originally made for release only in Japan, where he is apparently regarded as a full-fledged star. The songs here, written and recorded in the space of just two weeks with a handful of friends, have the vinegary edge that the late guitarist Robert Quine provided on Girlfriend. No, Sweet’s not all the way back to that level, but it’s good to hear him loosen up to the point where his perfectionism no longer suffocates his songs.
Living Things; Kimi Ga Suki