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Friday, 24 March 2006
matthew dear - backstroke
Now Playing: herb alpert's tijuana brass - rewhipped
Topic: 2004 reviews (jul.-sep.)

i love Matthew Dear's work. this EP is a testament to his brilliance. experimental pop goodness, i tell you what.

Record label: Spectral Sound
Format: mini-LP/CD
Release date: July 2004

(Review originally posted to BSOTS website september of 2004)

You really have to admire Matthew Dear’s work ethic: he seems to have been releasing music consistently since the start of last year. What I don’t understand is how the quality has been able to match up with the quantity of his output. The tone was set with a pair of EPs in 2003 that focused on his minimal techno sessions. He was already getting recognition as one to watch; then he dropped “Dog Days” (the leadoff single for his debut album) and that’s when things really got interesting. A summer dance floor anthem if there ever was one, Dear held the ship steady while maneuvering through house and techno waters, riding the current of a catchy chorus. This would bring his vocal side to the forefront. The mini-album Backstroke picks up where Leave Luck to Heaven left off, albeit a heavier focus on Matthew’s vocal-led material. With a knack for creating unconventional pop tunes, the payoff is big, establishing him as possibly the next superstar in techno.

The music’s accessibility is due to its winning combination of new wave/synthpop song structures, unbridled dance floor energy, and Matthew’s capable vocal ability. Both “Tide” and “Grut Wall” sound as if they were crafted to be the blueprints for underground chart toppers. There’s nothing that these songs don’t possess: memorable and catchy lyrics, infectious grooves, and 100% genuine in its presentation. “Huggy’s Parade” plays with the formula a little bit, keeping the music minimal yet bouncy as Dear’s vocals sound like they were phoned in from another planet. “I Know Howser” slows things down to great effect, its somber and melancholy tone being a natural platform for Matthew’s chops to shine (techno’s first balladeer, maybe?). The showstopper comes in the form of “And In The Night” as Dear switches gears to deliver some midtempo disco from an alternate universe. Latin percussion loops and the repeated phrase “sometimes I think about you” get stirred into a wonderfully messy stew. Vocals bubble over the top of this mutant pop cauldron, somewhat disembodied yet still passionate. This track contains more twists and turns than San Francisco’s Lombard Street, making for a great closer to this release. Absolutely fantastic.

{steve crognale}

you can purchase this release at emusic.com or at bleep.com (see media player below).

Posted by macedonia at 4:35 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 24 March 2006 4:39 PM EST
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