Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Matthew Good - Lights of Endangered Species REVIEW

I’ve been a fan of Matthew Good ever since I spent a couple of years in Canada and had the pleasure of being introduced to his music by some friends. His former band, Matthew Good Band, is quite popular in the Great White North and their album Beautiful Midnight was being played all across the airwaves at the time. This album still continues to amaze me and it baffles me how this guy has never managed to cross over to the United States. With hits like, Hello Time Bomb and Load Me Up, Beautiful Midnight was a stellar introduction to Good’s music and only the beginning of the greatness that was to follow.

Good split with his band in lieu of a solo career after Beautiful Midnight’s follow up album, The Audio of Being, with a steady flow of excellent solo material: Avalanche, White Light Rock Review, Hospital Music, Vancouver, and now the recently released Lights of Endangered Species.


Good has always traversed the line of mainstream and indie Canadian rock. With his last album, Vancouver, he had re-signed with Universal Music Canada rather than independently and the album went on to win “Rock Album of the Year” at the 2011 Juno Awards. After several months of touring, Good was back in the studio for his 5th outing as a solo artist to record his recently released album, Lights of Endangered Species.


The album itself is an interesting concept on its own. Some time back I had read somewhere that Good had been planning this album for quite some time. He imagined an album that was heavily orchestrated. With this new album he has brought this concept to fruition. The question is: is it any good?


The answer: yes and no.


Like I said, I really love everything Matthew Good has to offer so I was not only excited about this new album, but after listening to it several times I want to really love it the way I adore his other albums. The issue, though, is not as much a matter of like or dislike as it is a matter of mood for me.


None of the tracks on this album stand out particularly well on their own, but perhaps that is because of how well the album holds up as a whole. Each song has a way of supporting the next which build into a really breathtaking experience.


The real issue lies in whether or not the individual songs are of any particular worth. While I will say that they are still much better than a majority of the music played on the radio these days, there still are no real standout tracks that bring me back for a single song listen.


Even the first single released, In a Place of Lesser Men, is somewhat lacking in the excitement department. The song lacks any real emotional momentum and never really picks up like we expect our Matthew Good tunes to do. Yet when you listen to the song as part of the rest of the album, it has a real place within the whole.


Standout songs for me are, What if I Can’t See the Stars Mildred?, Zero Orchestra, and Set Me on Fire.


Ultimately, the more I continue to listen to this album, the more I continue to appreciate it for its willingness to be something different and experiment with orchestral variety. The album as a whole has had a way of growing on me and while I can’t see going to it to find individual tracks to listen to, I will in fact listen to it for the complete album experience. In a society where everyone is looking for the next hot single on the radio, it is quite refreshing to see an artist going out of their way to give the full album experience to the fans.


Fans of Good’s previous albums will no doubt have similar mixed feelings about this new release. But I imagine that most will end up truly appreciating it for what it is.


Rating:


As individual songs – 3.5 out of 5


Album as a whole – 4.25 out of 5


Review By: Mark.HaTe


TRACK LISTING

  • Extraordinary Fades
  • How It Goes
  • Shallow's Low
  • What If I Can't See The Stars Mildred?
  • Zero Orchestra
  • Non Populus
  • In A Place Of Lesser Men
  • Set Me On Fire
  • Lights Of Endangered Species





Lights Of Endangered Species by Matthew Good




5 comments:

  1. It's funny you didn't think any particular track stands out, at least to me it is. I have been a fan of Matthew Good since the "Everything is Automatic" single was released way back in 1997, so your other comment about mixed feelings also didn't apply to me. However, back to individual tracks, there are a few that stood out to me as being among the best work he has ever written - namely Non Populous, Set Me on Fire, and How It Goes. I find those songs very emotionally driven and songs that stand out on their own. I do agree the album works very well as a whole, but I don't necessarily agree that the tracks can't hold their own by themselves.

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  2. Hi James: I stumbled across your website while researching reviews on Matthew Good's new album. I picked it up based on your and few other reviews and I must say that this is one of Mr. Good's better albums. I would agree that it works better as an album than a collection of songs but that is the appeal of the best Matthew Good albums. The Audio of Being and Hospital Music also worked better as a complete work and they still sound great today. This is another Brilliant album! Pink Floyd and, of course, Radiohead have made careers out of creating amazing moods and soundscapes over the course of an album. I hope that Interpol doesn't sue him for plagiarizing "Direction" in the middle of "...Mildred".

    My only complaint about this album is that the vinyl version is cut at 33.3 RPM over the course of two LP's. Since the album is not that long, it would have sounded even better had it been cut at 45 rpm. A bonus CD or MP3 download would have been nice as well....

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  3. Being a Good fan for over 10 years now, I am very pleased with this album. It took a few listens all the way through and a 6 hour road trip, but it Matt did good here, no pun intended. I agree with your point about the album working as a whole. I do find myself going to the ipod for one specific song and wind up with 4 in a row. "...Mildred" to "Zero Orchestra" to "Non Populous" is a force that can not be stopped (or paused), and Set Me on Fire is a favourite. Closing with "Darlin" (the itunes bonus track) is reminiscent of Avalanche ending with "House of Smoke and Mirrors", and was a pleasant surprise with the download. I only wish they had put it on the vinyl copy.

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  4. This is the best thing the man has ever wrtitten, nuff said.

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  5. I have listened to Matthew Good from the beginning. He has made some amazing music over the years. Non Populous could be the best song he has ever written. It is such an amazing song. Gave me goosebumps at times and brought me to tears. I love how it just keeps building up throughout the song. As an album it's good. But not my favorite album of his. I would say Vancouver and Avalanche are my favorite albums. The Avalanche album was the first time I saw him live and it was an amazing show. Vancouver was an album that I really didn't like at first. It took a while to grow on me. Once it did it just blew me away.

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