Matthew Good – Lights of Endangered Species

Matthew Good – Lights of Endangered Species

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After the intensely personal Hospital Music and 2009’s Vancouver, it was hard to predict what direction Matthew Good would take with his newest record. The former was somewhat of a different approach for Good, who for the first time wrote more candidly about his own life than pointing his finger at the injustices he perceived in the world around him. Vancouver did the opposite, painting a bleak but startlingly real portrait of Good’s home city. It marked a new focus on piano and more complex arrangements.

On Lights of Endangered Species, Good has married these two styles and infused some of the old alternative rock aggression his former band was known for. A quick skim through the album reveals ambitious arrangements: Woodwinds float through “How it Goes,” while a sinister big band backs Good on “Zero Orchestra” with squealing horns. Strings and piano permeate the record from start to finish. It’s no stretch to say that Lights is likely Good’s most musically diverse solo effort.

A particular highlight is the sprawling “Non Populus,”  which begins as a brooding piano ballad before morphing into a haunting passage that would put most post-rock bands to shame. It captures perhaps one of Good’s best qualities: He’s able to write songs that are both ominous and beautiful. There’s always a sense of foreboding, but he leaves a beautiful marker in the middle of it to remind the listener that not everything is darkness. He writes of an oppressive world, but Good isn’t a complete cynic. There’s hope in here, too.

From the venom of “Zero Orchestra” to the crooning of the “How It Goes,” Lights of Endangered Species has something for everyone and touches on areas into which he may not have gone with a full band. Lights is another bright chapter in what is quickly becoming a beautiful, musically intriguing discography.


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