Matthew Good
Arrows of Desire


3.5
great

Review

by KerfuffleinaHussle USER (8 Reviews)
September 21st, 2013 | 10 replies | 2,095 views


Release Date: 09/24/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It may not be anything particularly new, but Arrows... certainly isn't the uninspired and wincingly forced 'return to roots' album it seemed it would be either.

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

This year, Eminem will be releasing his 'Marshall Mathers LP 2.'

What Eminem has accomplished here is a cringe-worthily unintentional parody of a timeless story in the music industry. Every band and every artist's discography has a peak – an album or a string of albums that sit above the rest in terms of commercial and/or critical success. And, unfortunately or not, every artist's discography has an end too. Some choose to end on a high note, and others like to divulge in much longer explorations of their own musical palette, even when continued ventures seem utterly pointless. For example, Tool have four albums; Bob Dylan has nearly three dozen. This is not necessarily bad unless the artist refuses to accept the passing of their own prime, and stubbornly spews out album after album of repetitive drivel. The final nail in this all-too familiar coffin is the infamous 'return to roots album;' in one last attempted grasp at the limelight, our ever-fading musician makes an uninspired and tasteless attempt to, usually quite literally, copy-paste their old and more successful musical styles, regardless of whether or not it's the direction they want to take. Invariably, these imitation albums are terrible. It's too early to make any sort of assumption about Eminem's next album – for all we know, it could be the exception that proves the rule – but the expectation of a cash-grabbing copycat release is almost unbearably present.

The same could have been said about Matthew Good's Arrows of Desire a month or two ago. One-time foreman of the hugely successful Canadian act Matthew Good Band, it's safe to say Good's career has come down a notch since his late '90s heyday. That's not to say the man's ever made his own musical endeavors easy, either; Good has been successful, outspoken and controversial enough in his home country to safely ensure that at least half of the Canadian population has had more than enough Matthew Good for their lifetime, while the man intentionally made himself totally scarce elsewhere in the world. It's one thing to be topping the charts only in your home country, but Good's last few albums (although garnishing plenty of critical acclaim) haven't been hitting any charts, anywhere. So when he announced this year that he had magically rediscovered his old 90's tastes and was releasing a 'fun rock album' (read: Matthew Good Band album), it was difficult not to wince at the sound of nails screwing into wood.

So what makes Arrows of Desire so alluring is the complete reversal it boasts of all these pessimistic expectations. Upon closer inspection, we find Good, as a suffer of bipolar disorder, never really liked the limelight much anyway, and is more in his element than ever when the (Canadian, anyway) crowds aren't staring his way all the time. And what separates Good from his peers is that when he says he's rediscovered some of the colors in his teenage musical palette, he means it; Arrows of Desire is closer to tasteful retrospective than shabby, copycat cash-grab. The album certainly doesn't sound much like the success-riddled tunes of Good's old band, but it puts a spring in the metaphorical step of his music that hasn't been seen for a long, long time.

Most of Arrows' chunky 40-odd minute duration consists of anthemic rock music of various descriptions. Setting the scene for the rest of the release are the energetic title track and album highlight “Via Dolorosa,” easily the most compact and immaculate rock song Good has put out since White Light's The Who homages. “Via Dolorosa” opens with pristinely-produced, dynamic guitar work and launches into a mighty, infectious and 100% Matthew Good chorus of “Wait 'til I get my head on/Wait 'til I get my head on straight.” Arrows doesn't let up on the direct and hard-hitting approach either – opening single “Had it Coming” offers a refreshingly snappy and quirky burst of energy, joyfully ditching the usual angst and anger of Good's music. “So Close” boasts a climactic melody line to sit up with the memorable outros of tracks like “Failing the Rorschach Test” and “Everything is Automatic,” without really sounding like either of them at all. The album knocks the tempo down a notch after this but keeps the lovable choruses rolling, with the retrospective, singalong anthem “Hey, Hell, Heaven” providing yet another highlight before the album soars out of view with the stunning “Letters from Wartime.”

Although Arrows slumps a little in it's repetitiveness, particularly in it's middle section, it's clear Good hasn't lost his ability to write flat-out enjoyable rock music. It is not a tasteless, forced attempt to replicate times gone by, nor is this the sound of a contended forty-something-year-old trying to act like an angry twenty-year-old man. This is Matthew Good exploring his own songwriting further and paying respectful homage to the musicians that made his discography the way it is today; pretty damned excellent.



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user ratings (11)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
Irving Tan STAFF (3)
White light rock & roll re-review....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 21st 2013



7164 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Solid review mate, however I'd find it hard to argue that this is him wanting/trying to return to his MGB days, and he probably has never wanted to. The Audio of Being and Beautiful Midnight (for instance), while probably having nothing that approximates the more ornate nature of his solo work, can hardly be considered as a predecessor to an album like Arrows, which feels like radio rock for radio rock's sake (by which I mean he isn't trying to make any sort of greater, overarching statement).

Gonna go and jam Vancouver now k byeeee

KerfuffleinaHussle
September 21st 2013



754 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"I'd find it hard to argue that this is him wanting/trying to return to his MGB days, and he probably has never wanted to"

That's kinda what I was trying to say in the review; that from an outsider's viewpoint that's what this looks like, but in reality Good was unhappy with the MGB days and, being happier in this setting, this album is more a retrospective than the attempt at returning to his old self it might seem to the unfamiliar eye. Reading back, I guess that was clearer to me cause I had the idea in my head so I didn't make it clear enough in the review. My bad. Might edit if I can be assed, haha

Vancouver is awesome. Hell all his solo albums have been, really. Needs more recognition on this site

SadAndHolyGlow
September 22nd 2013



1511 Comments


Good review. I will be checking this out.

Digging: Vallendusk - Black Clouds Gathering

KerfuffleinaHussle
September 22nd 2013



754 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thank you. Hope you enjoy it as much as me!

QueenJane
September 25th 2013



4 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

The last track is titled "Letters In Wartime", not Letters from Wartime.

As a longtime MG fan, this album is fantastic, he really knocked it out of the park. Garden of Knives, which was not mentioned in your review, is a stellar piece of music. Fans who were turned off by his last release should really give this record a listen.

KerfuffleinaHussle
September 26th 2013



754 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Damn, that's my bad. I'll fix it later. Thanks for the feedback. I was aware of the lack of 'Garden of Knives' in the write-up but I didn't want it to end up feeling like a track-by-track review...and it was plenty long enough anyway!

I agree the album is fantastic, good to see I'm not the only one enjoying it

QueenJane
September 26th 2013



4 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I'm interested to see more reviews on it. Seems like fans wanting more LOES style stuff are going to be disappointed while those who were turned away by LOES are going to like it.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 26th 2013



7164 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

^ This

M72
September 28th 2013



24 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Why the 3.5 when everywhere in your posts it shows 4?

KerfuffleinaHussle
September 28th 2013



754 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The extra 0.5 on my personal rating is just a bias towards everything MG-related ;-)



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