Thursday, May 14, 2009

3. Beautiful Midnight - Matthew Good Band, 1999 (Best of the 90s)

Beautiful Midnight

Matthew Good Band
Universal Records.

As much as Good purports himself an unbiased activist on his constantly updated website, he never seems interested in playing the sheppard. Pity, since most of his registered flock is so unabashedly blind, they would kiss a pile of garbage if it vaguely resembled his ass. Point is, devout MG fans (myself included, although I steer clear of obsession) are an opinionated bunch when it comes to the man’s work. There’s the debate over what’s better: the MGB years or Good’s solo output, or for bonus indie-points, Good’s early 90s demos or Good’s post-band efforts? Hell, SCQ has indulged a similar debate by pitting Avalanche against Hospital Music for solo-album supremacy. One thing remains largely agreed upon, whether you’re a longtime or casual fan; that Beautiful Midnight is the crowning achievement (both artistically and commercially) that the Matthew Good Band ever released.

You could feel Good’s creativity swelling from the moment Underdogs went gold; the 'Apparitions' video, his growing presence on stage, his opinions publicized coast to coast and his prolific writing of self-described manifestos. Suddenly the brooding artist who wrote ‘She’s Got a New Disguise’ had a formidable platform to speak from and aside from some purposefully aloof entries about porn stars and setting off the world’s nuclear warheads on India, Good has used the stage responsibly. No surprise that the album recorded and toured throughout the posting of these online manifestos was Beautiful Midnight; fourteen songs that menace and unfurl the darkness of his imagination, with the odd faux-commentary (‘The Future is X-Rated’) thrown in for ironic measure. Beyond the noteworthy four singles are what best carries Beautiful Midnight to greatness; the ferocious stadium stomps of ‘Giant’, the black-comedy punchlines in ‘I Miss New Wave’, the restless but absolutely perfected misery of ‘Suburbia’. Good always knew when to rest his case, as proven in the deafening collapse of ‘Born To Kill’ – the record’s heaviest moment – which gives rise to ‘Running For Home’s daybreak soliloquy. One of Canada’s finest albums and an essential recording of the 90s.

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