"When I was young, the artists that I really admired were the ones who
always found a way to keep making music and expressing themselves,"
Matthew Sweet says on the occasion of the release of his 13th solo album
Tomorrow's Daughter. "To me, those guys were the real artists, and I've
tried to hold on to that attitude in my own work."
The seasoned singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist is currently
in the midst of a personal musical renaissance that's seen him produce some
of the most compelling and ambitious music of his three-decade career.
That description applies to Tomorrow's Daughter, on which such instantly
memorable new tunes as "Belong," "Run Away," "Lady Frankenstein" and
"Out of My Misery" demonstrate his uncanny ability to tap into a bottomless
well of pop history to craft music that's effortlessly catchy yet deeply
Tomorrow's Daughter—the follow-up to the artist's acclaimed 2017 set
Tomorrow Forever—is a persuasive testament to the enduring qualities of
Sweet's adventurous, emotion-charged songcraft. The new album's 12 songs
abound with the punchy melodic sensibility, playful sonic experimentalism
and introspective lyrical insight that have been constants in his expansive
Tomorrow's Daughter is the product of a burst of creative inspiration that
followed Sweet's 2013 return to his native Nebraska, where he reestablished his
Black Squirrel Submarine home studio. This period yielded 38 brilliant new
songs, 17 of which appeared on Tomorrow Forever. It instantly became clear
that this potent body of work merited a follow-up release, hence Tomorrow's
"It just sort of became my next record," Sweet says of Tomorrow's
Daughter, which like its predecessor is released via his own Honeycomb
Hideout imprint but this time distributed by MRI / Sony. Both albums
feature Sweet's current touring band, comprised of guitarist Jason Victor
(also a member of the recently-reformed Dream Syndicate) and his longtime
rhythm section of bassist Paul Chastain and drummer Ric Menck (also known for their own acclaimed work with Velvet Crush).
"When I put together Tomorrow's Daughter out of what I'd recorded, the 12
songs totally made sense to me in sequence," Sweet explains. "I enlisted
some of the people around me, friends and family, to listen to everything I'd
recorded and pick their favorites, and everyone pretty much agreed on what
was the top stuff. I think it stands up as a separate record, and as a time
capsule of the time that we made it."
The distinctive musical and lyrical qualities that illuminate Tomorrow's
Daughter have been hallmarks of Matthew Sweet's work since he began
making music as a high school student in his native Lincoln, Nebraska.
While attending the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, he became
active in that town's burgeoning underground music scene, as a member of
the now-legendary indie combos Oh-OK and Buzz of Delight, and in
collaborations with R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe and Chris Stamey of The dB's. A demo recorded with producer Don Dixon led to solo deals with Columbia
(which released Sweet's debut album Inside in 1986), A&M (1989's Earth)
and finally Zoo, which issued his commercial and creative breakthrough
Girlfriend in 1991. Girlfriend won raves from critics and established him
with a wide international fan base that continues to support him today.
Sweet continued to reveal new layers of songwriting depth and sonic
creativity on his subsequent efforts Altered Beast, the spin-off EP Son of
Altered Beast, 100% Fun, Blue Sky on Mars and In Reverse. His musical
gifts continued to shine into the new century with Kimi Ga Suki, Living
Things, Sunshine Lies, Modern Art and the Under the Covers series, a threevolume
collaboration with Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles (Sweet also served
as producer of the Bangles' 2011 album Sweetheart of the Sun).
"I can barely even fathom it," Sweet says of his massive body of recorded
work. "But here I am, so I try to live up to whatever it is I've established so
far. To do the work is the really important thing to me, but knowing that I'm
connecting with people makes me happy. I've continued touring pretty
consistently, and it's nice to see that people still care enough to come out to
the shows. There seems to be a real emotional attachment for them, which
means a lot to me."
Sweet is in the midst of an especially productive period that's seen him
continue to generate new material at a prolific pace. He's already recorded Wicked System of Things, a collection of new original songs to be released as
a limited-edition vinyl LP in November 2018 for Black Friday Record Store
Day, and is planning his next general-release album.
"I feel like I'm gonna be pretty active for awhile, and it's fun to be releasing
a lot of music," he says. "I thought that there might be some resistance to
putting out so much stuff, but that hasn't been the case, and that's encouraged
me to keep going."
Now firmly ensconced, along with his wife, cats and vintage recording gear,
in Nebraska after a two-decade-plus stretch in Los Angeles, Sweet works out
of his home studio, which allows him to indulge his bottomless musical
imagination, and to engage in long-distance collaborations with musicians in
other locations—a method that he employed on both Tomorrow Forever and
"In some ways I think that moving has had a positive effect musically," he
reflects. "I think it reconnected me a little bit to what it felt like when I was
really young and music was new to me, and maybe that's reflected in the
music. But it's hard to say, because making music is so internal for me that
it's mostly in my head rather than my surroundings."
Meanwhile, Sweet's catalogue continues to be a source of inspiration for
longtime fans and new converts. For instance, the Intervention label is
planning deluxe two-LP vinyl editions of Girlfriend, Altered Beast, Son of
Altered Beast and 100% Fun, which will feature a wealth of rare and
unreleased material. But it's creating new music that remains Matthew Sweet's main concern, and he continues to do so with renewed intensity.
"This feels like a really good time for me, and I feel lucky and grateful to
still be doing what I love to do," Sweet asserts. "I feel like I'm in a totally
positive place, and maybe moving has been a catalyst for that.
"When I meet young people and they ask for advice about a career in music,
I always say, 'Do music because it's what you love to do, and because you'd
do it no matter what happens,'" he concludes. "I've tried to keep that attitude
about it, because that's always worked for me. I just try to keep doing my
thing and keep believing."