Fans of singer-songwriter Matthew Sweet who believe his best albums are 1991's "Girlfriend," 1993's "Altered Beast" and 1995's "100% Fun" haven't been listening to his work from this decade.
In 2003, he joined forces with Pete Droge and Shawn Mullins to release the eponymous album from the Thorns, a masterful 13-song collection recalling the style of Crosby, Stills & Nash via stunning three-part vocal harmonies and breezy acoustic rock. And in 2006, Sweet and former Bangles lead singer Susanna Hoffs teamed up on "Under the Covers, Vol. 1," a wonderful collection of tuneful covers from the 1960s such as the Beatles' "And Your Bird Can Sing" and the Who's "The Kids Are Alright."
Now fans of intelligent, tuneful and groundbreaking melodic rock can get ready to welcome another disc to their growing collection of favorite Sweet albums.
"Sunshine Lies," which is being released by Shout! Factory on Aug. 26, 2008, is every bit as strong as his aforementioned classic '90s releases.
"I felt very good about this record during the making of it," said Sweet during phone interview on Aug. 15, 2008. Sweet completed the recording of "Sunshine Lies" at Lolina Green Studios, his Los Angeles-area home studio.
"I'm comfortable working in my home studio now whereas earlier in the decade I was just kind of learning how to do that (make professional recordings at home)."
His 10th full-length commercial release, the 13-song "Sunshine Lies," boasts up-tempo riff rock ("Room to Rock," "Flying"), psychedelic forays (the aptly-titled "Daisy chain"), tender ballads ("Feel Fear") and shimmering power pop ("Time Machine," "Byrdgirl").
"The way this particular record took shape was an unusual trajectory. First of all, it was made over a longer period time," Sweet explained.
"Initially, it was all rock songs like 'Flying' and 'Room to Rock' and songs like that. But I kind of felt it was missing other dimensions. Almost always when I make a record I try to make sure to have a variety of kinds of things on it, so it doesn't just only represent one way."
Sweet is generally recognized as one of the great power pop architects to emerge since the 1980s. Although the genre had its share of commercial heroes in the 1970s (notably the Raspberries, Badfinger, Big Star and Cheap Trick), the Lincoln, Nebraska-born Sweet was among a handful of successful artists to bring new life to the field in more recent times.
But while Sweet's music is accessible, his recordings simultaneously offer up lush and colorful sonic arrangements rarely equaled in modern music.
"My main complaint about music now is it's so perfected that it sounds boring and canned."
Sweet noted that music fans attending the upcoming show at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano can expect to hear material off "Sunshine Lies," as well as off his well-known '90s albums.
"Those (a trio of Southern California club shows in late August) are warm-up dates for us," Sweet said. "We'll go to the rest of the country in October."
Matthew Sweet and Orange County's Fallen Stars perform at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008.
I hope to see you all there!