Matthew Good's newest album feels a lot like the Matthew Good of old: The opinionated frontman whose high-octane indie rock blasted a snarling swath through college radio charts in the late 90s. That Matthew Good. It's a welcome return.
The revisited rock sensibility that drives Arrows of Desire is a dramatic departure from the musical direction that Good has been taking over the past decade. His ten-year solo career, comprising six previous albums, has been marked by darkly introspective, often experimental, music that was considerably less radio-friendly than the earlier rock that defined the Matthew Good band. At times acoustic, at other times embracing lush orchestration, each solo album seemed to move further from Good's rock beginnings. Arrows of Desire has changed all that.
Perhaps it's the return to a full backing band for the first time in a dozen years, perhaps it's the feeling of instant familiarity that hits you upon first listen, but many of the tracks on Arrows of Desire would not feel out of place on earlier releases like 1997's Underdogs or 1999's Beautiful Midnight. In particular, “Via Dolorosa”, “We're Long Gone” and “So Close”” hearken back to the guitar and drum driven rock anthems of those early days.
That's not to say that Arrows of Desire is derivative, nor does it feel like a settled family man trying to recapture his glory days of rocking out. The songs on Arrows of Desire feel every bit as authentic as Good's introspective acoustic recordings, just louder and faster. And one suspects that the immediacy of many of the tracks will make this album more readily embraced by radio than were Good's previous releases.
Of course, no Matthew Good album would be complete without a politically-charged song or two. Good's well-informed and outspoken geopolitical views afford him real agency in penning such highly-opinionated songs. The beautiful and brutal “Guns of Carolina” and brooding “Letters in Wartime” feature Good at his finest, and are a powerful departure from the more straight-ahead rock that defines most of the tracks on Arrows of Desire. But make no mistake, the rock songs are pretty great too.
Matthew Good is currently on a cross-Canada tour. Look for him to rock a venue near you.
Matthew Good – “Had it Coming”
Matthew Good – “Guns of Carolina”
Matthew Good – “Hey Hell Heaven”