Matthew Good proves he can only get better

Eric D'Orazio

Since the mid-’90s, Vancouver’s Matthew Good has been an unstoppable force in the music industry. With his hard rock outfit, the Matthew Good Band, he procured countless radio hits, along with a series of memorable, let alone incredible, videos that all but ruled the rotation on MuchMusic Canada. However, by late 2001, the band split, and Good was left to ponder his future as a musician. Would he be able to pull off the same success without his band? Would his songs hold the same greatness? Well, with the release of his first solo album, “Avalanche,” all the answers fall into place.

Recorded throughout last summer, “Avalanche” makes itself out to be an eclectic mix of all that is “good” in the alternative genre. It has pensive ballads, dynamic guitar solos, and emotionally deep lyrics that cover everything from lost love to pessimism toward the government. In truth, many of the songs vacillate among these factors, going beyond the norm and coming out with something that is all but original.

One of those so-called in-between songs is “Weapon,” the album’s third track. Released as a single soon after “Avalanche” was completed last fall, the song moves in and out of being an unrequited love ballad to becoming a hard rock anthem of sorts. It utilizes a mixture of acoustic precision and overdriven power to emulate the deep emotional swing the song describes. Implying that love is the greatest weapon one can have, the song stands not only as a message for all to heed, but a classic piece of Good material that all may enjoy for years to come.

Not long after “Weapon” arrives the album’s next love song and second single, “In a World Called Catastrophe.” Like its predecessor, it deals with using two distinctly different aspects of the alternative genre and putting them together to form an utterly great piece of music.

Yet, this time around, the song’s words and music are what play off one another. Whereas it sounds quite optimistic with its symphony-backed rising action and gorgeously arranged guitar riffs, its lyrics are all but depressing, dealing primarily with life after love. With the line “remember how we started because since then I’m a waste,” one can tell the emotional withdrawal that occurs in the song, but more importantly, that it is a song in a world all its own.

On any given album by the Matthew Good Band, one can clearly find an overly pessimistic track that stands out from the usual love-oriented songs of those records. On “Avalanche,” the same is true with “21st Century Living.” Dealing with the seemingly American idea that all things trivial are better super-sized, and how a false sense of ambition is the cause of corruption in our time, the fiery spoken-word track holds much importance on the album. Instead of merely “singing songs about 21st century living,” Matthew Good is stressing the problems in today’s world in hopes that people will come to realize those issues and work towards repairing them.

If there is one thing that comes across when listening to “Avalanche,” it is that the album is Matthew Good’s finest to date. Though his former band was a rock juggernaut that defined the Canadian alternative scene in the ’90s, he seems to have taken that presence and developed more of a conscience to it.

He now speaks from his own experience, reflecting his own views, as opposed to keeping up the hard rock façade of years past. As of now, it seems he is more focused and dedicated to music that expresses human nature and remains moving in the process. In all truth, with respect to “Avalanche,” Matthew Good has become great.