by Mitch Myers
On its ninth official record release in 20 years, The The continues to defy all expectations and create unusual music thats both deeply personal and exceedingly appealing. Although The The mainman Matt Johnson does his level best to fill this record with crashing guitars and his emphatic vocal discourse, he never ventures too far from the hallowed ground of Top-40 radio. While theres nothing on this album thats as deliciously commercial as The Thes 1983 hit single, "This is the Day," NakedSelf is a cohesive artistic statement of guitar-based British pop.
On the folk-infused composition "WeatherBelle," Johnson adds both plunking banjo and distorted guitars over his particularly emotive vocal performance. For the most part this disc rocks out aggressively, embracing hard-rock rhythms as well as some tortured warnings regarding modern Armageddon. Employing highbrow production and providing clever musical hooks for almost every tune, Johnson is a contemporary songwriter with a distinctive guitar style that occasionally overshadows his sophisticated lyrical content. Artistic diversity is the byword here and Johnsons hard-edged performances remain the bedrock of this collection. Still, with sweet ballads such as "PhantomWalls," troubadour Matt Johnson also displays the soft white underbelly of his ever-aching soul.
Viva The The!