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Matthew Sweet on His Ambitious New Record and Taking 'Girlfriend' On the Road

Stream the singer-songwriter's new single 'She Walks the Night'

August 12, 2011 2:30 PM ET
Matthew Sweet
Matthew Sweet
Maury Phillips/WireImage

Click to listen to Matthew Sweet's 'She Walks the Night'

"She Walks the Night," the first single from Matthew Sweet's 13th studio album Modern Art, sounds like a classic sunny Sweet power pop tune, but it's actually a major departure for the veteran songwriter. "It's really about an apparition," he told Rolling Stone. "It's unusual for me, and it's a little unclear what the exact subject is, but we're dealing with a sort of ghost, some archetypical type of idea of this woman. She's ostensibly dead, no one else can see her, really" Sweet admits that the radio edit, which you can stream above, is a bit misleading. "The album version is actually is a bit weirder," he says. "It has a longer, weirder intro to it, and it kinda breaks down in the middle of it." 

The artier, more abstract style is a hallmark of the Modern Art album, which was influenced in part by the singer's sideline gig selling his own hand-made ceramics on Etsy. "In the making of pottery, I really see when things get abstract or when things are more normal forms," he says. "Part of the way I think I was looking at Modern Art in making it was trying to come at things in a little bit more abstract way but without becoming cold or minimalist, and keeping some kind of heart and feeling in it while still messing around with stuff. If you hear the whole "She Walks the Night," it's like I was trying to make a song and tear it in half, or run chords backwards from where they'd been at first."

Photos: Random Notes

It may be a while before fans will get to see Sweet and his band perform his ambitious new material. "I think it would be difficult to play live, just to have everybody learn it," says Sweet. "It's especially challenging because we're gonna tour to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Girlfriend this fall and we're going to be playing the whole Girlfriend album." Sweet is set to play the album through a few times at gigs in Spain next month before taking it out on the road in North America in October. "It's quite a task learning the whole Girlfriend thing. I think in the beginning here, we'll only play a couple songs from Modern Art, the easier ones."

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