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Ranking the MGB albums

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 Awhile back there was a thread about ranking Matt's solo records and the responses were pretty interesting and it made me curious how people rank MGB's records as well.  Now obviously there is a lot less choice here, four LP's and 3 EP's over a six year period, but over the years as I've talked to different people I am quite surprised how different their lists can be for for such a compact catalog, and I always find their reasoning for their choices to be interesting and in many cases eye opening.  Matt's solo catalog is much more eclectic in the different influence of sounds and the styles of the albums, but it also covers a period which now nears two decades.  MGB was different, they had a sound that was their own in my mind, to me they were always almost their own genre.  Whenever someone finds out I am an MGB fan, they usually start asking me if I am a fan of a myriad of other 90's Alt Rock or Can Rock bands, to which my answer is usually either no, or I like a few songs by them.  MGB exists in my record collection as an island in the Ocean.  Nothing else in my collection is remotely similar, yet I consider their albums as essential as anything else I own.  So I thought it might be an interesting discussion to rank the albums and EP's all these years on as Audio of Being was released 20 years ago yesterday, and basically signaled the end of the band as they never played or released anything else after October 30th 2001.  So 20 years later what are your thoughts? 


3. Lo Fi B Sides - I hate listing this so low as I really enjoy these three tracks.  Enjoy The Silence is an excellent cover, and since it's the only cover they officially released it's an intriguing look into how they approach others music.  Fated is a fantastic track that honestly deserved to be on an album, one of the best EP tracks in total and Born to Kill is interesting to hear in demo form, and as an added bonus gives a bit of a preview of what the alternate universe where Geoff Lloyd stayed in the band for Beautiful Midnight might have sounded like.  If the studio version wasn't on Beautiful Midnight and Born to Kill was exclusive to this, it would bump this collection into a fight for top spot for me, but as it stands it's just too compact.  

2.  Raygun - A decade ago this would have been last place for me, but I've grown a lot in my appreciation for the bands earlier work the past few years.  I used to consider Raygun fairly average, and Generation X-Wing I preferred the solo acoustic version from Rooms so this revved up version felt off putting.  But after finding live video of these tracks, the rhythms became so infectious it changed my mind on them and I rate them both as very strong EP songs, and like Fated feel they could have easily have been on a studio album.  Haven't Slept In Years is my preferred version of this track, but obviously sonically this version wouldn't have fit on Ghetto, so it's inclusion here is perfect.  Alabama Motel Room is a bit of a waste here though, especially since we now know there were several suitable Ghetto outtakes available and Sharks of Downtown which was written, but apparently not recorded at the time of the Raygun session, any of those would have made this album much stronger, so a bit of a strange inclusion here.  Finally So Long Mrs. Smith is a cool little acoustic track that helps to tie all three Ep's together in that they all have these kind of mellow acoustic tracks that were always a part of Matt's style, but didn't necessarily fit into the concept of the LP's he was writing at the time. 

1.  Loser Anthems - At 23 minutes this one is over twice as long as Lo Fi B Sides, and while length doesn't always equate to a better product, here there is just too much material to be overcome by the shorter EP's.  Flashdance II is a perfect EP song, it's catchy and interesting, while sounding like the Beautiful Midnight material it was an excised cut from...but at the same time it is just lacking that certain something to justify it's spot on that album amid some strong material.  The Man From Harold Wood is more of an interlude, but I sure love the way this sounds, very mysterious and haunting.  I wish MGB would have written something a little longer and progressive because they had a phenomenal way of coming up with alluring soundscapes like this that I would really have enjoyed seeing incorporated into a longer piece that had dynamic changes between slow and melancholy and hard and angry. My Life as a Circus Clown is a strange song that hints to me at a style they would develop further on Audio of Being, but it's not particularly remarkable in and of itself.  Intermezzo is just a bit of studio fun.  If the album had ended there it would be my least favourite of the EP's, but the final three tracks really propel this one above the rest for me.  Flight Recorder From Viking 7 is incredibly atmospheric and cinematic to me, it really pulls me into it's story.  The addition of Holly McNarland is fitting and appropriate foreshadowing as she had helped introduce MGB to a national audience by starring in the Alabama Motel Room video and now with this song she may have recorded on one of the last recording sessions MGB ever undertook.  Does anyone know the answer to that by the way? Audio was released October 2001, but it was recorded in late 2000 early 2001, Loser Anthems was released June 5th, but I always assumed the final tracks were recorded after the Audio of Being, meaning they were actually the last MGB tracks created chronologically, but I've never seen exact recording dates.  Life Beyond The Minimum Safe Distance again is a very cinematic song that builds from something quiet and slow into a tempest of explosive energy and helps to perfectly setup the sparseness of the final track The Fine Art of Falling Apart which again foreshadows Matt's upcoming solo career as the track is just him with a guitar and the performance has a real rawness to it that I find appealing because it suits the lyrical content.  The line "I used to think I'd get over everything, but everything just got over me" is one of my all time favourite in the huge catalog of fantastic lyrics written by Matt Good.  


4. Last of the Ghetto Astronauts - For a very long time Ghetto was an album I underappreciated, I considered it very much second tier and rarely listened to it.  Around the time the albums were released on vinyl about five years ago I even debated not getting it at first, but then the completest side of me kicked in and I grabbed it, which meant I would listen to it for the first time in years and it really hit me during that listen that I had been missing something here.  True I had always liked a few of the tracks, and Matt playing Omissions on his 2012 tour had really opened my eyes to that track, but listening to it all in one go really gave me a different feel for the tracks and because of how frequently I had ignored it, it still felt very fresh and unpredictable to me.  There was a real energy and livliness to the playing on the record and the sound in general was of course very different being played on acoustic guitars and with Dave largely providing support on the organ it gave it a very unique sound.  While I feel all the MGB records have their own unique sound, Ghetto is such a departure from the others it's almost hard to reconcile this is the same band at times.  Alabama Motel Room is a decent track and a solid opener/choice for a single.  It introduces the bands unique way of combining high energy riffing with mellow almost spoken word verses combined with dark subject matter and lyrical content without being overtly profane. Symbolistic White Walls is the most well known track here and an obvious candidate for a single.  It's got all the essential elements of the MGB sound in one song, and yet it doesn't really sound like anything anyone else was writing at the time.  Geoff's bass drives this one along and it's amazing that a hit song can be this minimalist in it's structure, but it builds smartly and subtly into a very cool groove in the chorus.  MGB liked placing slower mellow songs as the third track on their albums, and it works here well with She's Got A New Disguise which establishes the band's ability to write strong ballads that still have infectious beats and with lyrics a little sharper than your standard sappy affair ballads often tend towards.  Again, it is Geoff's bass driving the track well the rest of the instruments are providing support.  Matt's vocals in the last minutes of this song are spine tingling to me.  He sounds so sincere and devastated as he laments over and over "all I want is you" the track is an emotional heavyweight.  Native Son has a real cool upbeat tempo and is that handclaps? I'd love to see a video of that! This track picks the pace up nicely after the slower preceding track.  Which belies a further point.  I have always thought the MGB albums were sequenced incredibly well.  It's clear a good deal of thought went into their construction as such because if you take any of these albums and play them on shuffle, the effect is immediately lessened than listening in the correct sequential order.  I used to know a girl who used to randomly say Arriba just as Matt does at the start of Vermillion and because I ignored this album for so long I didn't clue in until years later that she was making a MGB reference.  High energy like Native Son after it builds and then it comes back down again, showing an excellent sense of dynamics.  It's one of those songs I always think of as being not overly remarkable, but then I listen to it and just start rocking out.  Hard to believe there are no electric guitars here, amazing. 

The second half of the album kicks off a little strangely with Every Name is My Name, a mostly spoken word track over a repeatitive refrain. Almost reminds me of The Doors American Prayer where they set Jim Morrisons spoken word poetry to background music.  This track isn't one I revisit often on it's on, but as the album it's ok, although it's placement is a little auspicious, I would have preferred Omissions of the Omen in this spot personally.  Haven't Slept in Years is a cool track, that as stated I prefer the electric version on Raygun, however, this version really lets me focus on Ian and Geoff who have some really memorable parts here.  Geoff bass lines are flat out awesome and Ian's stop start rhythm in the verses is so tight.  Did anyone ever write lyrics like Matt Good? I can't put my finger on it exactly but he sings about subjects and uses terms and references I've never heard other lyricists use and sometimes on paper they seem like they'd be cheesy and yet when you hear them in the song they are completely integrated and appropriate.  Radio Bomb is probably the most uptempo thing on the record and rocks along with some enthusiastic drumming and Dave doing some really cool looping swells on the organ beneath the beat.  Fearless was a song I totally overlooked even on subsequent listens to the album until Matt brought it back from the dead on the 2019 solo acoustic tour and I immediately fell in love with it.  There is just something about the way his vocals rise and falls over the chords with obvious despair, but the slightest hint of malice that just draw me into this song.  Matt's vocals are so interesting to me, he deviates between this kind of growly snarl and a choir boy echo, not just from song to song but often in the middle of one line, again it just feels unique to me I can't think of other vocalists with that same approach and the same sound as Matt, which was especially prominent with MGB because he hadn't lost any of his original range yet.  Earlier I lamented that MGB never really expanded on something progressive, but with The War is Over they get pretty close to it with the time change breakdowns that come intermittently throughout the track which help give this one a different flavour to everything else on the album. I just love the way Ian leads them into those segments and then starts doing rolls with the building guitars to bring them back out of it as they slowly accelerate back to top speed.  Matt almost barks the lyrics in the outro, unconventional, yet unrestrained.  The hidden track, and one sadly omitted from the vinyl release may be the best track on the album.  Fittingly it is also the track that points towards their future sound it reminds me of something that could easily have been slotted in on Beautiful Midnight.  It is a strong enough closer for the album, but again I do think I'd prefer it in Every Name is My Name's place because I quite like War is Over as the lengthy album closer.  It's small potatoes though.  There is a ton to love about this record, I don't feel Matt's song writing had quite fully reached it's potential yet, but because of that he takes the music in some very interesting and unexpected directions here making this likely their least predictable record.  It really does have it's own sound, and it seems like it wouldn't all work.  But the recording quality and mix do a beautiful job of holding it all together and making it a staggering debut album.  While it remains my least favourite of the MGB albums, that is no knock as I hold all four in such high regard and no longer consider it the second tier album I did just a few years ago.  Few albums in my collection have grown on me as strongly as this one has.       

3. Underdogs - The singles from Underdogs were the first instance of me taking notice of MGB, in the summer of 1998 Apparitions was the song that put them on my radar, although I wouldn't hear the whole album until a few years later.  The obvious thing that stands out immediately with Underdogs is the electric guitars and how heavy the sound has become with their full integration.  Deep Six kicks off the album and is a pretty high energy track, but I always thought it was a pretty mediocre track, the lyrics and structure seem to me like someone told Matt to write a generic run of the mill radio friendly rock song.  What it does well is introduce you to the new sound of the band and showcases what Dave is now bringing as a lead guitar player, but beyond that it doesn't do a ton for me other than immediately establish the energy factor.  Everything is Automatic was the lead single off this album, and makes a great deal of sense.  I love the way this one builds in the intro, the heavy riffing guitar soon joined by the picking guitar and then the drums and bass kick in and the song is taking off.  This song carries on a tradition established on their debut of having some pretty low key verses followed by supercharged choruses, but the blending of the two guitars here is a really nice effect that lends it additional heft even in the mellower verse.  The chorus is catchy and singable which is probably why this was chosen as the first single.  After setting up the high energy start, the cold intro to Apparitions is stark and effective. To me this song is a masterclass in song writing and structure.  Call it overplayed, say you're burnt out on it, but even after all the times I've heard this track, if I just sit and focus on it, it still gives me chills all these years later.  I hear people refer to it as a ballad, but how often in ballads do people essentially bark lyrics out?  Parts of this song flat out rock and it creates such an interesting dynamic.  All the members combine something unique and interesting here that creates a sound greater than the sum of their parts.  I love the way Ian does those fast rolls into the chorus, but then plays the chorus pretty laid back. Geoff's bass is simple, but a perfect compliment and Dave constructs a wall of sound through several different guitar approaches from the feedback in the first verse, to the individual picking in the second verse to the subtle lead playing underlain in the last verse. The way the sound fades at the end to leave us once again with just Matt and his guitar is perfect.  My Out of Style Coming is Coming Back returns to a heavier sound although it is at a more sludgy pace than the openers. It's another track that like Deep Six is kind of just there, Dave does some interesting things on lead, but not much else really grabs me about this track.  Strangest One of All reminds me more of how the band was writing in the Ghetto era, carried mostly by it's main riff and defined by it's largely clean verses where Geoff and Matt are prominent.  When it breaks down into the bridge it shows some of the maturity in their compositional structure of songwriting before going back into prechorus with Dave doing that amazing descending riff.  Something about the main riff of Middle Class Gangsters always reminded me of creepy circus music.  Actually during the MGB run that sort of creepy circus sound would sporadically show up on a few occasions.  The lyrics to this one always reminded me of that high school mentality. Matt once joked it was written about a 7/11 in Coquitlam and that seems about as apt a description I can muster.  A very different sound on this one, yet it fits in well at the mid point of this record.  Rico is just a fun song.  Sure it's a bit lightweight, but the lyrics are pretty comical to me and it's a bit of a mid record reprieve from some of the heavier tracks before it.  It's interesting how much the sound of these songs vary from track to track, but yet they feel inextricably linked as well.  I always think of the Underdogs sound as being a mix between the jangly peppy sound of Ghetto and the darker harder sound of Audio of Being.  

Prime time Deliverance has some of my all time favourite Matt Good lyrics as an entire song.  The imagery of the girl in the pink bunny suit in sour cherry lipstick hanging from the closet door is one of those images that uncomfortably sticks with you.  The band intelligently lets this song rest mostly on those lyrics and the haunting organ by Dave without too much fanfare.  Matt exhibits his dark humour in the final line which was always a strength he had in his lyrics, using almost a joke to pontificate just how dark the subject matter is.  How do you follow up a song like that? You can't really just hit some energetic rocker, so in perfect sequencing they launch into The Inescapable Us.  The sonic landscape here is really cool, it feels like the sound is three dimensional and drifting past me.  Matt's vocals here are perfection as he shifts between his deeper growls and his beatific highs, really a song you can just get lost in . Now they can segue into something a little more rock and Geoff's bass flourish is the perfect way to do that launching us into another of the more radio friendly tracks on the album.  There are a number of songs Matt has gone on record as despising after the fact.  Some I can see his point, but I never quite understood his hatred for this track.  It's far from my favourite on the record, but it is a catchy tune that has some heft to it and it's placement is pretty crucial on the album otherwise it would be a pretty long run of slower mellower tracks.  Invasion 1 is one of the songs it took me awhile to appreciate and I'm not really sure why because it has that combination of light and shade combining hard rock with the more mellow sounds of the verses.  The upside is this one still feels very fresh to me.  Look Happy It's the End of the World is a track that for some reason just isn't overly memorable to me.  When I listen to it I enjoy it, but unlike much of this album I can never recall any specific lyrics beyond maybe Box My Ears and I can never think of how it's even structured until I listen again.  It is a bit more generic sounding than many of the other tracks here and always felt a bit like filler to me.  Epic closing songs were a hallmark of the MGB albums, which makes sense because Matt always claimed he was in it to write albums not just songs, and that approach definitely rewards the listener willing to listen to these as a complete piece.  Change of Season just has something very dynamic and and air of conclusion about it.  It kind of takes all the elements of the Underdogs sound and approach and fuses them into one final burst, while also pointing the way to the future as well by adding in elements like the piano on the chorus that has been largely non existent on the album, but would play more predominant roles in the bands future records.  What's interesting about that is that John Shepp has told us Change of Season was actually around and written in the days he was recording Ghetto, so it's pretty amazing then how well it bridges the period between Underdogs and Beautiful Midnight! 

2. Audio of Being - This album holds such a special place for me, because it was the first released after I became a huge devoted fan of the band.  It also holds a strange place in my memory because it feels like it just vanished, it almost feels to me like a TV show that gets cancelled after a cliff hanger episode and you never find out how those story arcs wrap up.  After Beautiful Midnight it was such an interesting and unexpected progression in their sound, I was so excited to see what was going to happen to it and the band going forward into this new era the videos were on MUCH, the singles on the radio and then it just suddenly stopped and the next thing I knew the Weapon video is on MUCH and that small part of the artist name, the four letters that form the word band were absent and I remember feeling a bit of a sinking feeling seeing that, because you knew something had been lost...even though I loved Weapon and was excited for new music by Matt, it felt distinctly like an era of my life had ended the same way an era of Matt's career had.  So this album will always be encircled by questions that will never have answers.  In some ways it makes it a bit difficult to listen to, in other ways it makes it so incredibly intriguing.  Audio of Being has such a dark sound to it, it feels like it was written and recorded at night, with the lights off, it feels like it would be strange to see these songs performed in daylight at a festival show.  I can't describe why I feel that way, but this album has always had that vibe to me.  

Man of Action kicks things off with some raw power.  I love this track, the way it builds over that tension inducing riff in the verse and just slams in the chorus, again some of my favourite Matt lyrics are peppered throughout this track, such a shame this one has never been played live.  To me, Matt's vocals reach a peak between the period of 2001-2003 and on this song it is fully evidently, he is in complete control of them, bringing the emotive highs, the seductive whispers and the heart stopping wails, he is just in full command of his vocals as an instrument on this album.  There is something unsettling about Carmelina, there is no trace of that happy jangly sound from the earlier records here, it's purely a dark sludge.  The band has continued to fill out their sound with different tones and layers as they've progressed and they use all of that to excellent effect here.  This was the lead single from the album, which I guess makes sense, but it isn't your typical top the charts sound. but sequenced on the album here it works really well.  While the previous MGB records all used the third track for a slower ballad, Audio of Being breaks the mold a bit with Tripoli.  It is a slower track, but I wouldn't describe it as a ballad, it has a very heavy sound. Ian's drums pack a big punch on this song. Something about the choir of children singing at the end while that oscillating feedback drones is a bit unnerving.  Advertising on Police Cars, I could probably write an entire book about just how much I love the opening of this track.  There is so much going on and it feels so alive like some kind of monster waking from a deep slumber.  When you first hear the drums they sound like that are at the bottom of some dark canyon, then they come into focus and the bass slides down and you hear the main instrumentation kick in amid police radio chatter and as the intro ends there is a feel of some large heavy object rushing past you at high speed making a haunting groaning sound in the progress before we are introduced to the inauspicious Mr. Chips.  This song puts me completely in a trance and I love that Matt doesn't over sing it, allowing his vocals to be almost a spiritual guide through this aural landscape.  As I mentioned earlier the piano plays a much greater role on the latter MGB albums, mostly in a subtly but stunning way like in the chorus and outro here it is an absolute sublime sound that high pitched stark sound echoing into the ether.  I, The Throw Away seems to me to be severely underrated.  It is a a harrowing and melancholic song with an engaging stripped back instrumental with some utterly thought provoking lyrics. "You know they put a man on the moon simply to prove we all need some place to go where we're not known." has always been a favourite of mine.  This song always wraps up with me wanting a moment just to contemplate and is a perfect break from much of the heavy production on the rest of the album.  Again the band shows restraint and intelligence by following up the contemplative I, The Throw Away with Truffle Pigs which is another song that seems to have a wistful track that seems to have a hopefulness, but also a dim view on the reality of that hope.  

After a few slower tracks the band kicks things back into high gear with The Fall of Man, perhaps the heaviest song on the album.  Again here, I am enamored with the subtle sounds occurring in the background of these tracks.  You really needto listen to this album over and over to pick up on all this stuff and yet it perfectly toes the line between complementary and intrusive without ever crossing it. This song also features that sound that shows up a lot through the album that almost sounds like the electric signal has caught on fire and is slowly smoldering.   Under the Influence is a more upbeat song, that may have had radio potential had Universal not just totally given up on the album and the band amid the breakup, it was interestingly one of the few tracks from the album Matt would continue playing live in the early days of his solo career.  Has an artist ever written a lyrics as vividly dark as the line "If I roast marshmallows over their bodies, do you think God will still find their souls?" Talk about disturbed.  I really enjoy how much atmosphere and thought the band put into the intros and outros of the songs on this album, very few just end with the song proper.  The Rat Who Could be King is such a vocal showcase for Matt.  If you doubt that his vocals were on another level during this period, try and sing this whole song in one go with all the force and drawn out words like Matt does here, by the end your vocals could will be falling all over themselves just trying to squeak out any kind of sound at all, let alone hit and sustain a note.  There is so much emotion in the way he sings here, and listen to the anger that creeps into his voice the final time he sings the line "love's not enough." Anti Pop is what it was meant to be, a song written after the fact to try and give the record company something they could promote.  From their standpoint, I get what they were saying because I've always wondered, Underdogs and Beautiful Midnight success were sustained on the back of four well timed singles.  Well what would the 3rd and fourth single have been of this album, I suspect Under the Influence would have been one, but usually they released a ballad as a third single, but there is nothing on this album that would really fit that role.  Perhaps Truffle Pigs is the closest I could come up with, but without Anti Pop I can see how they would really be scratching their heads on what could be released as singles from this album.  With that being said, I think the album could have sold well off the bands reputation at the time, and had they been able to promote it with live shows and TV appearances I think it would have made a big difference.  Anyways Anti Pop is definitely slight, but it is catchy and it does somewhat breakup what is a very heavy listen.  Workers Sing a Song of Mass Production reminds is another track I just can't really ever think of anything that really stands out to me, when I listen to it I enjoy it, It's a solid song, but nothing really sticks.  

A bit of a bone of contention here.  All Together was originally slated as the penultimate song on the album, but was dropped late because it was felt it was too similar to I, The Throw Away.  I sure wish that hadn't happened.  For one, it comes so far after I, The Throw Away it could never feel too samey and it's a piano ballad, the only one on the album and very different in sound to anything else on the album because of it.  I absolutely love this track, and while of course I can digitally add it back in, I wish my CD's and vinyl had it there before I feel it is a perfect bridge between Workers and Sort of a Protest Song and again it includes elements of that unsettling creepy circus music that crops up on most MGB releases which Sort of a Protest Song flows perfectly out of.  Sort of A Protest Song is another perfect album closer, it just encapsulates all the bands strengths into one track and is a fitting farewell to MGB, even if it is one that will always leave me wondering where they could have gone next.  They had taken such impressive strides in such a short time span and Audio of Being took such interesting and unexpected turns that it's not easy to even caution a guess of what a hypothetical fifth album might have been like.  Regardless, Audio makes it clear that at least musically, this band was far from tapped out. 

1.  Beautiful Midnight - While I've raved about the sequencing on MGB albums this one is untouchable to me in that regard and feels like every part of it was specifically crafted to flow like this.  It is the definition of an album to me, where all the elements combine to create a greater work that is stronger than any individual part.  If I want to hear anything off this album I need to just play the entire thing from K-I-C-K-A-S-S to So low for how high.  Matt has described this as being an album about his past in his teenage years and perhaps that is why this one made such an immediate impact on me as in the time frame this album came out I was basically living through the same age range he had written it about.  This is a very rare album in my collection where I wouldn't change a thing about, the American version with remixed songs and replaced tracks drives me utterly insane, it's like if they took Van Gogh's The Starry Night changed the tone of the deep blue night and cut in a couple segments from The Potato Eaters.  It's sacrilege to me. What is most impressive to me is that while this album explicitly reminds me of a time period in my life that has now passed a couple decades ago, it still hasn't lost any of it's poignancy or relevance to me at all, and I've never burned out on it.  When I am in the mood for this record, which is frequently, it still delivers all it ever has for me and still packs an emotional punch few other records in my collection do.  It fits to a lose concept in that it symbolizes a single night with all the tracks representing an hour of that night.  It's appropriate because like Audio of Being much of it it feels like music better suited for listening on a dark night.  

Giant kicks things off with it's cheerleader chant and quickly hammers home it's hard rock motif, but then it does something surprising, it lays back and mellows out and for most of the rest of the song stays in that vein, which is entirely unexpected based on all the other kind of balls to the walls openers in the MGB catalog.  It really isn't until the outro that it really kicks back into high gear, which makes it all the more effective when it does and builds to the songs conclusion.  Giant was a rare song in that it was not a single, yet even casual fans I knew at the time seemed to know it, such was the widespread appeal of the album.  Time Bomb of course is a song whose reputation precedes it, likely to be the one song known by anyone if they have ever heard of Matthew Good.  But this song has always fascinated me because it was a huge hit, and yet it is fairly unconventional. The verses are largely spoken word with minimal instrumentation outside the predominant snare and the solo section is largely just an effects freak out. But the chorus is so catchy and singable that it just gets in your brain and doesn't get out.  This song broke through into cultural consciousness despite being pretty different from anything else on the radio at the time and that is quite a feat, one that honestly doesn't seem possible in the music charts today. As he first single, Time Bomb's success helped fuel huge sales for Beautiful Midnight which helped create it's legacy.  Strange Days follows the the third song ballad position and in that regard is a follow up to Apparitions, which is a tough comparison, But I think Strange Days succeeds majorly despite being cast in that shadow.  I really love the way MGB would build these ballads, basically every line of the vocals introduces a new instrument building up to a peak and then falling off again and at last finishing right where it began with guitar, vocals, piano chords and lyrics. It gives the builds so much punch and impact and it leaves you reflecting on all of it.  Another of my favourite lyrics is here "When you drift off, to wake up, do you always hit the brakes?" I've thought about that a lot. Following Strange Days with another slow song is a bit of a risk, but it pays off here with I Miss New Wave as the song ebbs and flows much like Strange Days and it's connected verses offering different ways to die in different locations help to keep it immersive.  This song has a longing for the past that I think is entirely relatable to anyone, musically it isn't as interesting as much of the album, but it's theme is pretty essential, which makes it's exclusion for the American release somewhat like tearing the heart out of the album.  Load Me Up was another huge single for the band, not nearly in the vein of Time Bomb, but still it was absolutely everywhere in late 1999.  It's placement here is essential as the album definitely needs a pick me up at this point, and Load Me Up delivers.  It's more conventional than Time Bomb, but that isn't a knock on it really, it's a quintessential late 90's rock song, but what separates it from others is the lyrics which are provocative.  Beautiful Midnight might be the album where individual players contributions are less distinct, but I feel that is a positive here because it lends itself to a cohesion in the sound that would not necessarily be present otherwise.  This entire album has a very distinct sound to me that separates itself from the rest of the catalog because of this and helps in a huge way to make this such a consistently strong listen as an entire work.  Failing The Rorscach Test first of all is a fantastic title for a song.  This song has such a cool intro with Ian's drums leading the way and then that very fuzzed out guitar kicking in making it feel quite ominous. It's so rare how just accessible everything is on this album.  Nothing sounds overtly commercial and yet there are all these deep tracks with the potential for a wider mass appeal. Rorscach Test is a good example of that, nothing in this song sounds like the band is deliberately writing radio friendly music, and yet I can totally picture this song being a success on the radio back in 1999. Suburbia wraps up the albums first half, an 11 o'clock song if I ever heard one.  There is just something so engrossing about the soundscape of this track it pulls me right into it's universe and I feel like I am living it's story.  Often when bands get caught up in really going deep into producing things like this they can after a short while feel very dated, but that's what impresses me so much about this album is nothing here seems cheesy, overwrought or dated at all.  The band uses strings so effectively on this album, never as a gimmick always just to accentuate to a great effect and that's apparent in Suburbia.   I always wonder if Matt gave much thought to vinyl tracklistings at the time.  Obviously this album was never released on vinyl but where Suburbia is sequenced and how it fades is perfect for what would be the end of the first LP where as on a single CD it doesn't have quite the same impact.  

The second half of the album starts with Let's Get it On, which at first seems to echo some of the soundscape of Suburbia, before the drums kick in and the song morphs into something more hard rocking. In the quieter parts Matt's voice sounds so delicate and fragile as if it's either going to break, or fade away all together.  Jenni's Song hits with some high energy right away and is one of the harder rocking tracks on the album, but again it is a song I could easily have seen being released as a single.  This song has some of Matt's more passionately sung lyrics as it sounds like he is on the verge of tearing this throat out although at points during this song.  Going All the Way is such a gem of a song, from it's picked guitar intro to it's soaring choruses there is just something I truly love about this track.  "All this, our beauty is just decay" is a fantastic line.  This song manages to both feel like a slower track and a heavy track which is a tough line to toe.  An indispensable track for me.  A Boy and His Machine Gun is such an odd song that I find gripping.  The lyrics are haunting and unsettling and yet the song has such a sad naivety and tenderness to it.  When he sings the line "Fucking Animal" there is just an indescribable amount of pain in that, you talk about artists being able to reflect their subject, whatever he is singing specifically about here is devastating. The music in this song is very underrated too, it aches, groans and screams along with it's narrator finally wrapping with that seriously creepy broken windup toy doing happy birthday, you could script an entire horror movie off the last 30 seconds of this song what a rollercoaster of emotions. The Future is X-Rated between A Boy and His Machine Gun and Born to Kill is such a bizarre juxtaposition and completely needed to break up those two very subject heavy songs.  The music in X-Rated is very radio friendly rock and it's no surprise this was chosen as a single, lyrically it reminds me of the rants Matt used to do on MUCH about just the overt commercialism and commerce in society.  From phone sex we segue into the heavy epic intro of Born to Kill, which gets heavier still when the drums kick in.  There is something just weighing you down with this song crushing even.  The outro to this song is one of my favourite things MGB has ever done, the strings are so dramatic and it feels like the song itself is imploding from within building with this incredible intensity until it just immediately bursts and in an instant vanishes into basically a flat lined EKG and an unnerving silence. Pure drama, pure cinematic effect and then with all that pent up aggression, fear, anticipation and tension pulsing through your veins over atrophied muscle tissue the soft soothing tones of a sole piano emerge from the murk.  Running For Home >SUN UP and Matt's whispered vocals sound almost like your own conscience.  Most would be content to end the album with the dramatic halt at the end of Born to Kill, and that would have made a fine finish, but Running For Home takes it to another level.  After the end, what comes next? Running For Home is almost spiritual in that sense and the double tracked vocals in the chorus help give it an almost angelic feeling, keeping it incredibly sparse with just the piano vocals and strings is perfect and ending it with a long outro of the piano and the strings in a perfect harmony as they slowly drift away is so artistically beautiful for me it defies words.   

Well there, as long winded as possible is my thoughts on the MGB albums and how I rank them, would love to hear others opinion, agree or disagree I'd really enjoy hearing 20 years on how these albums sit for the crowd here.  

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I’m going to write a more detailed post when I have more time because I would love to do a deep dive into all the songs and thematic explorations on each album, but for now (since I can’t write 5000 + words with the time I have) I’ll write down at least some thoughts because I’ve been wanting to ever since Adam made this thread. Plus I do think this is an interesting topic. Reading the above post got me thinking about these albums again and considering some considerations that I hadn’t thought about before, so I’d be interested to see what other people’s thoughts are as well.

Anyways, here’s my list for the full length albums:

4- Underdogs: It feels weird to place this at the bottom because it is not by any means a weak album. In fact, it’s very closely matched for me with Beautiful Midnight and does have some true gems in it (The Inescapable Us being one them). I just feel that in comparison to the other 3 albums, there’s just a tiny bit less that I gravitate towards on a personal level here. However, it still has great, great power to it. I can still remember listening to “My Out of Style” when I was 14 for the first time on my discman and being truly transported by the lead guitar work that Dave does at the end of the song along with Matt’s sky reaching vocal falsettos. All of it was so focused, clear, and meaningful. I had never heard something quite so epic before. As far as other songs go, as I mentioned, The Inescapable Us is probably still in my top 5 to this day. I completely agree that when listened to the sonic landscape paints a 3 dimensional picture of things drifting by. For me, all the harmonic and keyboard background noise that was worked in always makes me think of driving or floating in the dark (as it does feel like a night song) as lights and other things that are moving so fast you can’t identify them go pass. Also, Matt’s vocals in here are near perfection. The way he sings “Steal it away” with that falsetto again always creates chills. Change of Season is another standout. I can’t listen to it without being transported back to the year 2000 when I first heard it. For some reason I always picture a fall season with this song and a lot of orange. No idea why… Lastly, I firmly believe Rico gets waaaay too much hate. Still love the laid back vibe this song has. Just very relaxing and fun.

Anyways, an exceptional album overall and again, the only reason it’s at the bottom is due to a slight deficiency in memory associations with the songs and because I think the production in Beautiful Midnight was a bit above what it was in this album (even though the production here is still top notch too).

3- Beautiful Midnight: Like Underdogs, just because this isn’t higher up for me doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a great deal of meaning for me. I can remember when I was still in high school I would drive around town on rainy days or nights and just soak in most of the songs. So many memories associated with this one. Elements of note for me on this one are that I love the atmospheric production on this album, it got me into the band, it brings me back to a much simpler time period of my life and it has one of my favorite songs of all time in Giant. The dreamlike landscape created in that one by all of the band members and their instrumentation, along with Warne’s beautiful production work, was something I had never heard a band pull off. Plus, all of Dave’s lead guitar work was just next level and the solo he does in Giant is hands down my favorite solo of all time. Furthermore, while I’m generally not a singles guy, I do have to admit that it was LMU that I first heard on the radio and got me into the band/Matt’s music. That opening riff is just so iconic and instantly snags your attention. I can’t think of another one like it, actually. Strange Days too always had the ability to capture my attention and hold it. It had a beautiful build from just the acoustic and has a very majestic feel to it from Dave’s keyboard work. The funny thing is though, that when it comes to singles, like Apparitions before it, despite HTB being one of Matt’s biggest songs, I was never really all that drawn to that one. I don’t think it’s a bad song, but it just never spoke to me in any meaningful way. It’s kind of weird to think that most of the band’s most popular songs (save for Load Me Up or Strange Days) or albums for that matter, are one’s that I never really gravitated towards as much compared to others.

Overall, again, like Underdogs, just because it’s lower down on my list doesn’t mean I think of it as a lesser album. I just happen to have a very strong connection to the other two albums on a personal level that I can’t put either Midnight or Underdogs above them.

2- The Audio of Being: Tbh, I don’t have the energy to talk about this one right now, lol. Too much to describe and discuss. Suffice to say that as far as longevity goes, I can still listen to every single song on this album today and still have them sound not only fresh, but also still carry a great deal of the potency they did when I first listened to them. So much honesty and thematic quality from both the lyrics and sonic landscape in every single song. Lastly, as with figuring out where to place Underdogs and Midnight, it was a very close debate in my head about whether to place this as number 1 or number 2. I’ll explain why it doesn’t quite make the number 1 spot in my full post, but suffice to say, it was a very close consideration for me.

1- Last of the Ghetto Astronauts- Again, not enough energy to get into worthwhile detail, but again, like AOB, even after 2 decades, I can still listen to every single song on this album and be drawn into each one without them feeling old or outdated. Likewise, out of the entire MGB catalogue, I think that from a song writing structure, these are the most unique and engrossing to me, both from Matt’s catalogue and even other artists in general. I have never heard song structures or textures like these one’s before. Lastly, as I’ve said in the past, I love how the production work on this album allowed all of the band members at the time to showcase the massive talent that all of them possessed. Indeed, I love being able to listen to songs, focus on each different instrument, while also marveling at how each one adds something exceptional to the song itself and there is so much in each song to focus on. Whether it was Matt’s manically speeded guitar playing, Dave’s backdrop painting and song lifting keyboard work, Geoff’s brilliant bass lines, or Ian’s busy, standout, booming drum sounds, all of it is so exceptionally jaw dropping that I still can’t believe such a unique album managed to be created. All of John’s recollections from last year have only made me appreciate it more. 

Again, I can’t get into too much detail right now, but I appreciate every single song on this album and it’s not really possible for me to listen to it without being pulled into each one and then get lost by a thousand different elements in each song.

Anyways, as I said, I'd be curious to see what other people think and I'll create an even longer post than this one sometime in the near or later future. 

Edited by daniel_v
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