Review Summary: Matthew Good’s 2009 album “Vancouver” looks to encapsulate his love/hate relationship with his hometown, and express some of his grievances as the city looked to host the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Vancouver is a really strange city. Many artists come from the city, but never seem to stay, while others may venture during the summer, visit the beaches, and leave as the mercury slides down. Matthew Good never really left the city. After spending his life in Vancouver, his grievances with the treatment of the many social problems of the city boiled over, and he decided to move out of his home in the downtown core...but not before releasing his album “Vancouver”, expressing his love/hate relationship with the city, and the demystifying the seemingly perfect coastal town.
The album itself has only ten tracks, but certainly doesn’t feel short to the listener. Each track is expertly produced, and feels in place. The album opens with the haunting “Last Parade”, which re-introduces the rocker side of Matthew Good, something lost in 2007’s primarily acoustic release “Hospital Music”. “Last Parade” was the first single for the record, and encapsulates the album’s style well. “The Boy Who Could Explode” is another rockish track, urges the listener to act on the injustices they see in their own city: “What time is it that you’re waiting for?”.“Great Whales of The Sea” is a more experimental track, and features some whale sounds blended throughout the song. In my opinion, the whale sounds should have been left out of the track, as they are somewhat distracting- however this is a rather picky grievance. “Us Remains Impossible” is one of the stand-out tracks on “Vancouver”, a fun and radio-friendly rocker which describes a failed relationship.
“On Nights Like Tonight” and “Volcanoes” are slower, more artistic tracks, which display Matt’s unique style, and his voice. These tracks are well written and sung, and really give the album a “body” in the middle of the album. “A Silent Army in the Trees”, while being an excellent track, is the only track that doesn’t really belong on this album. The track deals with war, and like other, more political Matthew Good songs (Such as “If I Was A Tidal Wave”), should have been a b-side, or a bonus track. “Fought to Fight It” is another rocker of a track that fits well on this record, but is overshadowed by the album standout “The Vancouver National Anthem”. Layered with orchestral arrangements, guest vocals by Pete Yorn, and having the most direct and powerful lyrics on the album, “The Vancouver National Anthem” truly sums up Matt’s feelings toward the city, and describes the pain of being helpless to change a city unwilling to mature. Lastly “Empty’s Theme Park” closes the album, and is one of the weaker, and my personal least favorite of the album.
Matthew Good’s “Vancouver” is an excellent record because it merges many well written tracks into a cohesive whole, and serves as a “tourism package” for the traveler who mistakenly believes Vancouver to be a costal paradise. While Matt certainly has love for his hometown, his emotional plea for change sadly went unnoticed during the 2010 Winter Olympics, and it seems like little has changed in the coastal hell of Vancouver.