Tomorrow Forever, Matthew Sweet's fifth album of new material in this century, the first since 2011's Modern Art and 14th overall in a recording career spanning more than three decades, is teeming with his signature sounds and ongoing preoccupations. But the expansive 17-song work takes these familiar elements into previously unexplored territory, reflecting profound changes in his life. Purely in terms of its guitar payload, the new album is a breathtaking Fourth of July fireworks show, with axes trading volleys from the left and right channels in old-school-stereo fashion, as Sweet breaks out a lineup of killer players, each sporting a distinct style, like a modern-day Moby Grape or Buffalo Springfield.
They shine on incandescent tracks like "Trick of the Light," the power-pop instant classic that opens the album, the bristling, Zuma-esque midtempo churner "Bittersweet" and the glorious four-guitar jangle fest "Music for Love." Guitarists Jason Victor (Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3, Dream Syndicate), Val McCallum (Jackson Browne), John Moremen (The Orange Peels), Gary Louris (The Jayhawks) and Paul Chastain (Velvet Crush) blaze away in various combinations alongside the rhythm section of Menck (Chastain's partner in Velvet Crush) and Sweet on bass and guitar; from song to song, he adds keys and Mellotron to his lead vocals and backing harmonies. The Bangles' Debbi Peterson drums on four tracks, and The Zombies' Rod Argent brings his elegant piano touch to "Haunted," which unfurls with a "Layla"-like majesty, and "Hello," in which Matthew straps himself into his time capsule for another journey to and from the future.
From the elaborate gatefold packaging featuring harlequin cover girls painted in the early '60s by Maio from his own collection to the album mastering by Abbey Road's Sean Magee, best known for his nuanced remastering of The Beatles' and John Lennon's catalogs, Tomorrow Forever could be described as Matthew Sweet's All Things Must Pass.