Review Summary: Matthew Good Band’s start has its shares of hiccups and unoriginality but was a promising start for a band that would soon gain huge mainstream popularity and prowess the whole way
Booming straight out of the Canadian underground scene, Matthew Good Band came seemingly out of nowhere by releasing The Last of the Ghetto Astronauts and starting their ascent in mainstream popularity and alternative rock prowess. In hindsight, The Last of the Ghetto Astronauts seems like standard fare now, but something about it seems original even now.
There’s no doubt that it is dated, heck, a lot of music from the mid 90’s would be. But something about the band’s style really strikes a chord. Maybe it’s the sheer amount of beauty of Matthew Good’s voice that sets the band apart. His cathartic yelps are as prominent as would be on any other releases. Though on this record, his voice is a bit more rough and hewn as compared to his other releases. His voice really shines through on the beautiful and atmospheric “She’s got a new disguise” and the bands hit single “Symbolisitic white walls”. Instrumentally the band is a bit raw on this record with prominent bass lines rounding out the mix. Even the organ is used in full flow and its addition really adds to the meat of the music.
A lot of the music seems more typical and average in comparison to the albums the band would release later on. While almost all of the songs are good, nothing about them really makes them incredibly ground breaking and sound like cookie cutter material, but with more edge. The mid 90’s alternative rock charm is in full force throughout the quirkily titled debut. Swelling choruses driven by guitar and grooving bass lines during the verses (which were staple marks back then) can all be seen in the song writing. Songs like “Radio Bomb”, “Vermillion” and the aforementioned “Symbolistic white walls” are catchy, guitar driven and emotional. What instead makes the album more enjoyable is the great song-writing. This makes the band’s mainstream and critical success not that surprising. Drips of originality can be heard more prominent on the slower songs like “Fearless”, “Haven’t slept in years” and “She’s got a new disguise” as all the emotional and introspective release that was oh so great back way and when helps the album and these songs stand out as highlights. “She’s got a new disguise” in particular really stands out as a beautiful and distinct song when dissected out of Matthew Good’s extensive discography. The trademark melodic and evocative vocal delivery is even more heightened due to the atmospheric guitars and placid nature of the music.
Unfortunately it’s mired by repetitiveness. Which stays common throughout the album as the band seems to be stretching songs into unnecessary refrains. Maybe in an attempt to lengthen the album, considering its only 10 tracks. Throughout the 10 tracks, one song stands out in particular, not in a good way either. “Every name is my name” is just a waste of disc space and doesn’t help the record at all. This track could’ve easily been replaced with the secret track “Omissions of the omen”. Two minutes after the ending of “The War is Over”, “Omissions of the omen” comes in to the fold and stands out as a wonderful gem that is as cryptic as its inclusion and serves as a worthy closer to a great album.
In the end, Matthew Good Band’s start has its shares of hiccups and unoriginality but was a promising start for a band that would soon gain huge mainstream popularity and prowess the whole way. There’s no doubt that there are a few hick-ups but Matthew Good Band’s originality helps the record define itself and make it more than passable.