B. Jason O. (panicBoy) from MANCHESTER, NH Reviewed on 4/20/2007...
Sweet's sweetest. The one that turned an obscure, struggling singer-singwriter into the teen tycoon of rock. That's Tuesday Weld on the cover, by the way. Rrrroowwwr.
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A rock masterpiece that gets better with age
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 01/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this album the week it came out because I read that it featured extensively one of my all time favorite guitarists, Robert Quine (cf. Richard Hell and the Voidoids or Lou Reed's THE BLUE MASK). And indeed, one of the reasons this album is so extraordinary is Quine's absolutely blistering guitar work (though ex-Television guitarist Richard Lloyd plays lead on the equally blistering "Divine Intervention"), which contrasts magnificently with Sweet's superb songs. Without Quine, however, the songs might be a bit too sweet (bad pun intended), a fault of some of his other albums. But without the great songs, there would be nothing for Quine to play against. When this album came out, Sweet was a bit of an oddity. He had released a couple of albums that featured nice pop songs and a synthesized drum track, which rendered the songs rather more lifeless than they should have been. On GIRLFRIEND, however, Sweet gets a full live, crack band with some of the best guitarists in the world. As a result, you get a phenomenally successful collaboration between arguably the greatest guitarist to come out of the punk movement and a first rate songwriter. As a fan both of great songwriting and great guitar playing, there are few more thrilling moments in rock for me than songs like "Girlfriend," which opens with an off-the-chart Quine intro, the gorgeous verses that follow, only to segue back into a scorching instrumental break. Does it get any better than this? Luckily, the great songs just keep on coming all the way to the end of the album. This album is just chuck full of great moments. Check the end of the guitar break at the 2:53 point of "Looking at the Sun," or the tremolo guitar that Lloyd Cole contributes to "Don't Go." Listening to this album again in 2003, it is as if "Holy War" had been written yesterday. The album appropriately ends with the marvelous "Nothing Lasts," featuring only Sweet singing and strumming an acoustic guitar while Quine plays a remarkably subdued electric.There are so many more things I would love to mention if I had space, like the way Sweet on the album isn't afraid to be a fan of pop idols, as seen in his love song to Winona Ryder (whom he didn't know) or Tuesday Weld (whose photo appears on the album cover) or Madonna (who is thanked in the credits with the words "hey, you never wrote me back"). A great album, and one that has held up magnificently over the decade since it first appeared."
A power pop classic
J. Chasin | NYC, NY | 10/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This record was a revelation when it came out, and remains as vibrant and bracing today. It is one of the absolute best power pop records of the 90s, a decade in which that genre experienced something of a renaissance (Posies, Teenage Fanclub, Velvet Crush, Jellyfish etc.)
Sweet had made a couple of unremarkable records before this one. I think two things made it leap out of the CD player and into our collective conscious. One was the sublime twin guitar work of Richard Lloyd (Television) and Robert Quine (NYC downtown guitar hero and notably on some of Lou Reed's most powerful work.) These two guys blaze and smolder throughout these melodic, harmonic songs, providing more bite and panache than most records you will hear in any genre. The performances of Quine and Lloyd in service to Sweet's catchy numbers creates the illusion of two tigers tamed; you can feel the excitement of their ferociousness on every track, even the soft, cotton-candy-sweet "Your Sweet Voice."
The second thing that makes this record stand apart is the fact that it is a break-up record, and a great one. From the optimistic second tune, the infectious "I've Been Waiting," through to the desolate "Nothing Lasts," you can hear Sweet laying bare the gamut of emotions involved in a relationship and its dissolution. Like Paul Simon's Hearts and Bones or Richard and Linda Thompson's Shoot Out the Lights-or perhaps most aptly, Fleetwood Mac's Rumours-a good break-up record transcends time and trends and endures.
Every subsequent Mathew Sweet record has a few gems, and some folks will even argue that the follow-up, Dinosaur Act, is the better album. It is a good one, but this is where the Mathew Sweet legend begins and reaches its fullest heights. "
nate dawg | 06/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I own over five thousand CDs, Tapes and Records. This is my all time absolute favorite. I was in my early twenties when this came out. I don't know how many cracks I put on the steering wheel of my 74 Chevy Nova banging my fists to this album. The title track is great and gets you right into the record. He just plays great down home, grass roots rock and roll. No extra crap. Some of the songs are quite sad like You Dont Love Me and Winona. They could downright make you cry. Thank God for Matthew Sweet, as he tried to singlehandedly save us all from the deeply mired heavy Seattle Sound of the early nineties."
Randolph Wish | west virginia | 06/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Thank God. I heard Girlfriend, the single, on the radio one day about a year or two ago. That lead to a download and the purchase of the album a few days later. What seemed impulsive was overpowered by the feeling that a masterpiece had been uncovered. I hate the superlative language thrown around for these sorts of things, but this has proven to be no flight of fancy. This guy, Matthew Sweet, writes songs that connect. You can feel it. The twin guitar virtuosos who appear here deserve big credit. Big drive. Big. It sounds great. Gritty and foot stompin'. And, what a recording. Near 49 now. Sometimes its raw. Sometimes its ennui. This recording captures both ends. It also rocks. randolph wish "