Matthew Good Band, fourth album. I just bought it today, and I've not done such stuff in a long while, actually purchased product. (It is very rare that I've any cash.) It was released in '99, but it is new to me, so new for the most part but I fell in love with Strange Days what seems like oh so long ago. It is nice to just sit back and listen to, or to write.. to write and to spill text, while the sound slips into your leetle ears. The lyrics on this album are nothing short of intense and pushing, so much emotion in text.. the words seem almost scattered, beautifully so. There are strings, they are amazing.

~~~

giant
you are here beginning and you are confused, the music starts and there is cheering and then, guitars and the sound, just the sound. you are drawn in.

hello time bomb
singing along or, sitting and staring because intensity. thrown and did you cry for the lost? it holds you there, you can't turn away and you are afraid to blink as if sound might be missed with open eyes.

strange days
they are. you will cry if you can string together potent images, if you can let the music draw pictures in your head.

i miss new wave
down. soft and slow, pain. this is the way that hurt should be.

load me up
up? faster and starting strong to feed you.. there is nothing so poignant and nothing to hurt or feel so much and, numb. you can be numb now.

failing the rorschach test

suburbia
tears.. every time, tears. and i could cry, i do cry, every time it finds its way into my head. i could not say why, precisely, it just feels, too much.

let's get it on

jenni's song

going all the way

a boy and his machine gun
words.. words. i love these words.

the future is x-rated

born to kill

running for home
the end. appropriately, the end.. this last track is so dreamy.

~~~

Matt Good wrote all of the lyrical content.. what I would not give to slip into his head even for a bit. His voice is most intoxicating, as well. This album, is amazing.

as an end note, of sorts, the reason that i am noding so many of the lyrics, is simply because i think they are aching intense beautiful amazing and that they should be read by all. you are of course, entitled to your own opinion.. but they are so so good, and i am taking the time to node them in what i feel is an interesting format. i will be adding personal notes to the lyrics, as well. (remain calm, do not let the utter anticipation get the best of you.)

Beautiful Midnight, released in 1999, was the Matthew Good Band's third full-length album. A culmination of their intelligent post-grunge, it was a massive crossover hit in their native Canada. I've heard songs from this album on Top 40, modern rock, and adult alternative radio stations here in Victoria, something that is true about no other album. While much of this success was just a flash in the pan, it is based on true quality. For this album is that rare thing, especially in this pop-chart centred time, an album which is good from beginning to end and low on filler.

This is the Canadian tracklist. The US release of this album removed some of the lesser-known tracks to be replaced by the hits from the previous MGB album Underdogs.

  1. 5:00 PM> Giant (6:10)
    Atypically, the album begins with a chorus of cheerleaders. The band quickly joins in before drowning the cheerleaders in layers of guitars. The song then calms down for the first verse, delivered in an even, measured tone. Distorted guitars join for the chorus, compelling in the patented Matthew Good Band fashion. The song continues in this manner, with its intensity belying the slow tempo and relative quiet of the song. It gets heavier towards the end, but never becomes too heavy.
  2. 6:00 PM> Hello Time Bomb (3:58)
    The first song on the album to be released as a single, this fast, hard rocker is very much an opposite to Giant. Offbeat drumming, background synths, and distorted guitar riffs offer counterpoint to the even vocals in the verses. In the chorus, the whole band rocks out, hard, but the focus remains on the lyrics, now almost (but not quite) screamed at the microphone. This continues to the rather abrupt ending.
  3. 7:00 PM> Strange Days (4:25)
    A quiet acoustic guitar and piano opens this song, as the sense of night that permeates this album becomes deeper. The song builds as is now seeming traditional to the chorus, and calms down again for the verse. A good change of pace after Hello Time Bomb.
  4. 8:00 PM> I Miss New Wave (5:02)
    Murky guitars and bass open this song, soon followed with echoey drumming. "When the world is screaming, "I miss new wave!"" is the chorus, interspersed with verses filled with despair; everywhere the narrator goes, things are the same, travel, sex, death. Very dark, but it's still only 8PM...
  5. 9:00 PM> Load Me Up (3:40)
    Another single, this straightahead rocker wakens from the somnolence of the previous song. It wakes up, and runs. Matthew Good's talent for imagery shows up here, enlivening the verses. Grungy guitar solos and explosive choruses make this one a major radio hit, and not without reason.
  6. 10:00 PM> Failing the Rorschach Test (4:45)
    Muted guitars establish the rhythm here, with the drums filling in the corners. Some of the more abstract lyrics on the album appear here, fitting the bizarre title. The guitar solo about halfway through is a highlight, forming an instrumental climax for once rather than a vocal climax. The music fades to just a clean guitar and voice before the distortion comes back for the ending.
  7. 11:00 PM> Suburbia (5:26)
    A slow, textured song, similar to much of Matthew Good's new album Avalanche, this does not lose any intensity due to its tempo. Brooding lyrics, brooding drums, brooding guitars, and brooding mood lead to an overwhelmingly dark but beautiful sound. Midnight is coming, and the light fades from the world with a faint promise of return.
  8. 12:00 AM> Let's Get It On (4:16)
    Starting quiet like many of the songs on this album, this song soon builds to something more... driving. Not one of my favourites, but undoubtedly intense and emotional.
  9. 1:00 AM> Jenni's Song (4:00)
    Possibly the most ironic song on the album, it starts with a suprisingly happy sounding heavy riff, followed by the lyrics "Jenni killed her dad with her car and now she's a millionaire". The lyrics and instrumentation continue on those themes, jubilant guitars and bitter lyrics joining into something oddly compelling. Not the most accessible song on the album, but it certainly grows on you.
  10. 2:00 AM> Going All The Way (4:17)
    More irony here, though not delivered quite as bitterly. Rather, it is an earnest irony, full of inverted hope as the narrator "cuts his losses" and resolves to "go out going all of the way". The music supports this with smooth shifts and tasteful changes.
  11. 3:00 AM> A Boy and His Machine Gun (5:02)
    Heavy and unrelenting, this song counters the seeming joyfulness of the previous two songs with anger, violence, and bitterness. Melodic despite the weight, the music flows towards the ranting climax of the lyrics with only a couple breaks along the way. "Fucking animal."
  12. 4:00 AM> The Future is X-Rated (3:47)
    The third of the singles, despite the phone sex backdrop in the instrumental break, it did quite a number on the local pop charts bringing in many new MGB fans. Caustic and blocky guitars and caustic and smooth lyrics propel the song through, backed by an almost dance-floor beat.
  13. 5:00 AM> Born to Kill (5:42)
    A calm opening and a quiet vocal open this song, buoyed by some of Matthew Good's best poetry. "It's more than the less you say you do / it's more than the shot that gets you through". Big drums and an interesting heavy riff transition to a slightly heavier part of the song, though the transition is smaller than it seems. The power of the song is sustained throughout, through the subtle transitions to greater musical intensity. Much of the song is in effect an outro, with strings joining in at one point to add even more to the flow of the song. Crashing, banging, screeching, then suddenly... silence.
  14. Sun Up> Running for Home (4:38)
    For once the quiet piano ballad turns out to actually be... a quiet piano ballad. Quiet, calm, reflective, everything the rest of the album is not, this is. "So low for how high? / It's too late tonight" Here, at last, there is closure.

Although it lacks the originality of Matthew Good's later album Avalanche, this stormy, dark, utterly brilliant album remains a very worthwhile and powerful listen.


(CC)
This writeup is copyright 2003 D.G. Roberge and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial licence. Details can be found at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd-nc/2.0/ .

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