Though he is not known nearly well enough in the U.S., Matthew Good made me want to be a writer. The Canadian musician is a prolific artist, with his work also including blogging and political activism. His work, both with The Matthew Good Band and solo, has always come from a brutally honest place, often served up with a side of sharp political critique.
What sets Arrows of DesireÂ apart from Good’s previous solo output is its simplicity. While experimenting musically and vocally has produced brilliant resultsâ€“the stuttering, teetering track â€œAvalancheâ€ ought to be heard in full by everyoneâ€“this record draws power from the fact that it goes back to basics. It sounds like it could have been recorded in the â€™90s, when The Matthew Good Band were coming into their own amongst the alternative, guitar-driven acts of yore.
Because there is no distraction from the music, the lyrics here have a real chance to shine. Personal stories triumph over universal statements, but the specifics make the songs so relatable. For instance, â€œHad It Comingâ€ is a track with Michael Stipe-like delivery, perfect for anyone who has struggled to find happiness in life only to finally find relief. â€œSo Closeâ€ is a Pixies-influenced anthem of survival, perfectly describing the conflict of the music industry with lines like â€œIf you ainâ€™t on your back taking it, get out of here.â€
For me, the greatest song is â€œMutineering,â€ which is tender without going too far into ballad territory. You can picture a man with great debts begging with his lover to cut ties before itâ€™s too late. The lyrics are just enough to be atmospheric without giving the plot away too much. Also worth checking out are the menacing but gorgeous â€œGarden of Knivesâ€ and â€œLetters in Wartime,â€ with its build and fade making it a perfect closing track. With Arrows of Desire, Good shows that he doesnâ€™t need a lot of style to make a great album. Itâ€™s just what lifers were born to do.