Electric guitars—snaky, knife-edged, burred or slab-sided—are Matthew Sweet's armor. Wielded by two legendary artists, Richard Lloyd (Television) and Robert Quine (Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Lou Reed), the guitars give Sweet a leather jacket, with studs, to sheathe his aching, earnest heart.
Sweet's own bass and rhythm guitar work, solid and well balanced, help him move along, giving each song deep footprints and a strong straight-ahead gait. The contrast between the molten, tormented and often self-doubting center and the bristly, assertive surface gives Sweet's tunes their distinctive tension. He crafts his melodies so that they build until the pent-up emotion breaks loose and the rhythmic drive of the song powers through the sudden shower of yearning, ecstasy or exasperation.
With 100% Fun, Sweet has raised his batting average to a career high. The album is strong, accessible and consistent in quality and tone. Is there a "Divine Intervention" here or a "Girlfriend?" A song about loneliness, "Not When I Need It," may come close. But let's let it march around for a while with its heart on its studded sleeve and see how it wears. (Zoo Entertainment)