Music

Matthew Sawyer and the Ghosts: How Snakes Eat

David Maine

A big, echoey sound wrapped around a strange, squawking voice.


Matthew Sawyer and the Ghosts

How Snakes Eat

Label: Fire
US Release Date: 2010-05-15
UK Release Date: 2010-05-24
Amazon
iTunes

Matthew Sawyer takes a lo-fi approach to epic sound-scapes. Draped in reverb and sporting a thick British accent, his voice squawks in a fashion distinctly unfit for the widescreen, surround-sound compositions he's attempting, but the musical accompaniment offers something larger. Strings and synths, rumbling bass lines and occasional guitar lines floating above it all. It's a big, echoey sound, a sound that suggests rolling prairies, or maybe oceans, or, possibly, deserts.

The songs themselves are a mixed bag. Your mileage may vary, depending on how much you enjoy lyrics like “My mind was like a jumble sale / Waiting to set sail / For the whale.” Sawyer's voice is occasionally grating, at times transcendent, sometimes in the same song. Opener "Mynah Bird's Call" rolls along above a jogging bass line that lends irresistible momentum, while "Revenge of the Extra from Zulu" is as twee as it sounds. Other tunes have a certain playful lilt--"She, the Ferrytree", "Caroline", "Talking About a Whale Song"—but elsewhere Sawyer falls into guitar-strummer mode, which falls flat.

It's hard to find a standout track here, which might be a positive; listeners who like one tune will probably enjoy the album as a whole. On the other hand, relatively little stands out. Sawyer's voice is out of the ordinary, to be sure; what's less certain is whether this is necessarily a good thing.

6

The 10 Best Debut Albums of 2009

Continuing our celebration of PopMatters' 20th anniversary, we revisit our 10 picks for the best debut albums of 2009. It turns out our selections were prescient as many of these artists have gone on to storied careers. Travel back to 2009 and see them again for the first time.

Music

The 60 Best Albums of 2009

PopMatters turns 20 years old this October and we're beginning to celebrate our history by taking you back in time a decade ago. Obama was in the White House and the musical times were very good indeed. Revisit 2009 through its best albums.

Music
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2018 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.