Starting out “Political Pop” with a brooding set of drums and an earthy bass line, the quirky, Neil Tennant-like voice of Matt Angus voice seems out of place until the equally quirky guitar riff, U2/Jimi Hendrix-influenced, comes onto the stage. In what can only be called the most dense five minutes of any track, Matt Angus Thing throws in a set of back up vocals (Kathy Phillips) as well as a cowbell and very slide-heavy guitar section. Not immediately identifiable in a genre scene, the clear mastering of “Politcal Pop” becomes an absolute essentiality, because if the album was not crafted with this care, the rich tapestry that Matt Angus and eir band weaves would be hindered artificially. With things as they are, Matt Angus Thing reaches for the sky and have virtually no limits to the successes that they achieve – the jam band nature of “Right Beside You” recalls Dave Matthews Band, albeit with a much more intricate arrangement in terms of the taut dynamic between the bass, guitar, and drums on the track. Continuing to cultivate the very strong radio-friendly sound present on “Political Pop” during “Caught Onto You”, Matt Angus Thing really seems to reach extreme numbers of listeners because of all the nods they give to country, jam-rock, and a myriad of other styles. If you like music, there will most likely be some hook that Matt Angus Thing drops to which you can hook.
Nowhere on “Political Pop” can there be said to be a musically weak track. However, there are some tracks that do not immediately connect with their listeners, most specifically the gospel/country hybrid that is “Stand”, mixing Brooks & Dunn guitars with a Harlem choir and attempting to make the entire track work. Matt Angus’ stale Aaron Neville/Williams Brothers inflection of eir vocals don’t add anything valuable to the disc as a whole. Heywood Banks is on this CD? Oh wait, it is just the incredibly embarrassing entrance to “President’s Son”, a track that has such strong social commentary that will most likely be skipped over due to the amount of cheese cut with the staggered vocal delivery and inane guitar lines. “Political Pop” is the most instrumentally fulfilling albums I’ve had the chance to hear in the last year, but Matt Angus really needs to vary eir delivery, especially considering the similarities found between “President’s Son” and their cover of “Folsom Prison”.
Top Tracks: President’s Son, Brings You Down
Matt Angus Thing – Political Pop / 2004 Tippinthecowmusic / 13 Tracks / http://www.mattangusthing.com / http://www.politicalpop.com / Reviewed 29 September 2004