From Matthew Sweet’s third and best album, Girlfriend, which appeared 20 years ago this Fall and proved that the age of hard-driving, well-crafted pop songs wasn’t quite over. It’s a catchy batch of rockers and ballads about crazy love and lost faith, brought to life with a killer studio band that included guitarists Robert Quine and Richard Lloyd.
Sweet’s style of disillusionment was in sharp contrast to that of the grunge rockers who were coming into their own at the time Girlfriend was released. He seemed a disappointed idealist, not a hard-boiled cynic. His cover girl was Tuesday Weld, and one of his weepiest ballads is called “Winona.” He loved the idea of finding love that would last. His vocal harmonies soar to the point where it would be fair to call them anti-grunge.
Footnote: One drawback was that there were too many songs, a common flaw of albums in the CD era. If Sweet had included the 10 best of the 15 songs, Girlfriend might have been a great album.