Some records instantly grow on you, and then there are others intelligent enough
to slowly grab our attention, allowing us to savor the intricacies and listen
every time as if it’s the first time. The new effort from San Francisco-based
The Welcome Matt is in the latter category with its new album, Empire Days.
At times you could classify the songs on this record as ear candy, but there’s
usually something waiting around the corner to surprise you and keep even the
harshest critic interested.
The first two songs remind me of indie pop hero Mike Viola, of Candy Butchers
fame. Lead singer Matt Langlois has the voice and the songwriting chops to
accurately draw that comparison. “In San Francisco” in particular is pure pop
genius—a dark, acoustic driven verse and a chorus that positively soars. “110 %”
is quirky but addictive as hell. “Love Too Much” has a bit of an Americana flair
thrown in. Acoustic songs like “Chocolate Shooting Star,” “Singer Song Lover,”
and the title track are exceptional, but some of the other tracks toward the
end, such as “When We Sleep” tend to drag the overall package down just a bit.
Perhaps ten or eleven tracks would have been plenty, but that’s just nitpicking.
This is the kind of record and, more importantly, the kind of artist that could
have some real staying power in the next ten years or so. In addition to Viola,
there are hints of classic songwriters like Costello and Dylan, as well as
flavors of Coldplay and Radiohead. Empire Days has found its way into my own
iPod and I have a feeling it will into yours before long.