Sound — 6
Folk rock musician Matt Nathanson has been playing the music scene since the early '90s; however, he first significantly impacted the radio waves in 2007 with the Platinum-selling song "Come on Get Higher." His combination of bright acoustic guitar and high pitched vocals appealed to many mainstream listeners, but it was this one song that really brought Matt a worldwide following. Now Nathanson is attempting to do it all again with his new studio album, titled "Last of the Great Pretenders." The album is started off with "Earthquake Weather," a song which sets the pace for the entire record. Light synthesizer playing can be heard in the background, amongst a significant kick drum beat, and the same acoustic guitar and vocal elements that popularized Matt's earlier outings. To be honest this song bears some strong resemblance to other popular mainstream artists such as Train and Maroon 5, and fails to showcase anything unique that would allow him to instantly stand out. The lead single, "Mission Bells," shows Matt trying to bring up the topics of drowning and suicide, however when backed by a bright and cheerful sounding instrumental section the piece as a whole fails. Up next is "Last Days of Summer in San Francisco," which returns back to the generic pop rock style first featured on the opening track. Throughout the entire album, Matt either stays consistent to the sound that is popular, or tries to combine bizarre elements in the hopes of creating a chart topping single. And in the end there are virtually no factors in this collection of new compositions that screams "Matt Nathanson," which makes for a dull listening experience.
Lyrics — 5
Throughout "Last of the Great Pretenders," Matt Nathanson makes an apparently conscious effort to stick to his higher octave singing voice. However in such songs as "Mission Bells," he attempts to hit the same notes that he did six years ago which now sound incredibly reaching. It's difficult to listen to songs such as these where Matt tries to sing about suicide while backed by light acoustic guitar work and attempts to hit reaching high notes, and definitely doesn't give you the urge to listen to it again.
Overall Impression — 5
With "Last of the Great Pretenders," Matt Nathanson attempts to deliver a collection of songs that will provide him with the same success of his 2007 hit single. When he isn't stepping into generic folk rock territory, his choice of lyrical themes make for an awkward listening experience, and in the end this album as a whole fails.