Austin American Statesman

CD review: ‘Animal Boy’ by Matt the Electrician

By Michael Corcoran | Monday, October 12, 2009, 02:20 PM

Matt the Electrician

‘Animal Boy’

(self-released)

Grade: A

“Sweet” is a word that doesn’t mean what it did when I was coming up. Kids now use it like “awesome” or “excellent,” but sweet is a word that can say a lot. For instance, when I tell you that Matt the Electrician’s new album “Animal Boy” is entirely sweet you know that it’s melodically kindhearted. You know it tells rich, simple stories and that it’s the kind of record you don’t download to your computer because music like this should be on something that goes around and around.

Sweet is the sound that can lighten your mood. It’s the right Journey cover (“Faithfully”) at the right time (opening track), interpreted without a single drop of campiness. It’s a falsetto-pop song like “Divided By 13” that sounds like it came from a dream that had all the old, vintage video games. “Innocence” and “sincerity” are two other words that have had better days.

“Animal Boy” sounds like ex-working electrician Matt Sever and co-producer Mark Addison, who each also play about a dozen instruments, couldn’t wait to get into the studio every morning. They’ve made a big little record that gently, warmly takes the listener from a rainy night in Osaka, Japan, to the customer service department of Walmart. The album’s most representative instrument is the breezy “banjolele,” which tells its own story of a hillbilly buying a one-way ticket to a tropical paradise.

It’s been a great couple of months for singer-songwriter albums in Austin, with Lee Barber, Bob Schneider, Robert Earl Keen and Sam Baker putting out music that sounds like it will last. Put “Animal Boy” in with that bunch, and give it a gold star if you’ll take Squeeze over Leonard Cohen every day of the week but Sunday.