Not to be confused with the god-like Wolverhampton’s Scott Matthews, this is the New York-based Australian with a quivering, otherworldly voice somewhat akin to a deeper Antony Hegarty shaded (especially on the opening Effigy) with hints of Scott Walker. His last album saw him reinterpreting songs by his own favourite writers and singers, but here on This Here Defeat, his fifth, he returns to his own pen for a collection of ten numbers, largely about a relationship break-up, the slow waltzing, keyboard ballad title track carrying the knowingly post-modern ironic line about how “I won’t write a song to tell the world you’re gone.”
Although Bittersweet is a fairly jaunty, almost vaudeville, affair with cheery whistles and female backing vocals, it’s a predominantly melancholic affair. Adorned with sombre cello and violin, the ache’s etched into the likes of the sparse bass and guitar accompanied Constant (“what was beautiful all at once is just brutal”), the equally understated Ruined Heart with its cello and synth harp and the breathily sun, strings embellished resignation of Here We Go Again.
However, it’s not all about the end of a love affair. The widescreen Skyline (another Walker-evoking track) would appear to reference 9/11 (and about how we all share the same solitude),while the final two numbers both deal with the very personal loss of someone close; the tender cello-backed Ode was written for his grandfather, whose funeral Matthew was unable to attend, and has him poignantly sing about “the honor of being your grandson”, while the latter, with its plucked guitar, French horn and the line “but we’re smiling again, we miss you the same”, is guessingly about his late friend and producer Mike Skinner, to whom the album’s dedicated. Not, perhaps, the most uplifting and sunniest of listens, but certainly one that gets deep inside you.
Review by: Mike Davies
This is Here Defeat is out now via Glitterhouse
Order via Amazon