Arts & Entertainment

Off Track: Matthew Sweet

According to Matthew Sweet, pots helped a lot with his 10th and latest album, Sunshine Lies. And yes, that is plural – “pots.”

“I learned how to make pottery in the last few years and it really helped with my music,” Sweet says. “So I started thinking, I’m just a guy in my home like a potter … that kind of helped free my mind from thinking about the business when I worked on my album. I think it really did have an influence in terms of just letting things go.”

His reward for that sort of abstract approach has been critical praise for Sunshine Lies rivaled only by that of his breakthrough hit Girlfriend back in 1991.

“For some reason, this record people have really been clicking on. It’s funny, I read all this stuff like, ‘He finally made an album as good as Girlfriend.’ And I’m like, really? I don’t know.

“[Sunshine Lies] felt vibrant to me. There was life in it and it was fun for me to make. So I guess that stuff sort of comes across if you can capture it.”

It’s harnessed quite well in the sweet synth-like harmonics and harmony-laden chorus of “Byrdgirl,” as well as the fuzzy, foot-tapping intro of “Room to Rock.” Through and through, Sweet’s power-pop signature is present, the same sound that announced his arrival in the early 1990s.

Just as with most Sweet songs, there’s always a check on the emotions. The lyrical highs are curbed by melodic lows, and words of woe are buffered with bright, silver-lined guitar strings.

“It really just comes from how I think and feel,” Sweet says. “Going all the way back to Altered Beast, it’s been like that. I think of it like there’s a guy with split personalities. There’s the ranting guy and the nicer guy. It’s never something I’m conscious of, it’s just how I feel.” – MH

  • Matthew Sweet plays The State Theatre Wednesday, Oct. 29. Tickets are $25 and doors open at 7 p.m. For more on Matthew Sweet, visit