Late Nights With The Power Pop

The American singer-songwriter Matthew Sweet celebrates his 47th birthday today. I first heard of him in 1991 when he released his breakthrough album, Girlfriend, a record I’ll be looking at when it reaches its 20th anniversary in a few weeks. The type of music Sweet performs belongs to a genre known as power pop, which feature vocal harmonies and strong melodies as well as memorable guitar licks. Groups like The Beatles and Big Star have exerted the biggest influence on the genre. Sweet has covered these bands throughout his career and, with the help of Susanna Hoffs, released two fine albums of songs from the sixties and seventies. Their version of Who Knows Where the Time Goes? is taken from the first of those and features Hoffs on lead vocals with Sweet providing harmonies and the guitar parts. It’s preceded by three songs that Sweet has contributed to tribute albums over the years. Big Sky appears on This is Where I Belong: The Songs of Ray Davies. Let Me Be the One is from If I Were a Carpenter. And his quite effective take on the theme from Scooby Doo is part of a musical celebration of Saturday morning cartoon shows. The final song is Death Cab for Cutie’s acoustic version of the opening track from Sweet’s 100% Fun album. Sweet’s just released a new album called Modern Art and you can download a free track from it at his website. From what I’ve heard so far, it sounds like it could be a welcome return to previous form. Both the new album and Girlfriend are available in a number of different formats and I’ll reveal more when I revisit Girlfriend on October 22nd. Hope you have a sweet birthday, Matthew

Big Sky (Kinks cover) – Matthew Sweet

Let Me Be the One (Carpenters cover) – Matthew Sweet

Scooby Doo, Where Are You? – Matthew Sweet

Who Knows Where the Time Goes? (Sandy Denny cover) – Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs

Sick of Myself (Matthew Sweet cover) – Death Cab for Cutie