The The Naked Self

The norm in the entertainment industry these days is that the longer you wait for something and get drunk on anticipation, the more disappointed you'll be: Eyes Wide Shut, a new Tom Waits album, Y2K, etc. So what makes Matt Johnson think he deserves to be different? The man behind The The has bucked all trends and made an album worth waiting seven years for. If 1993's Dusk was his most accessible album, Naked Self delves deep into the darkness that's informed his best work. The opening track, "Boiling Point," rides an intense groove that could have been borrowed from Massive Attack's Mezzanine, and it doesn't get much more comfortable after that; the closing "Salt Water" is the most aggressive track he's ever recorded. As he matures, Johnson trades some of his more obvious lyrical platitudes for polemical discussion. But he still bites hard on tracks like "Global Eyes," where he hisses about "Kentucky fried genocide" over a slinky "Come Together" riff. "The Wisperers" is a devastating tale of ageing loneliness, one of his rare forays with third person narrative. Sonically, Naked Self is a triumph of gritty guitar sounds, subsonic bass and creative panning. The only slip is the aptly titled track "Voidy Numbness," which cops the Stone Temple Pilots of all people. "My life is halfway through/and I still haven't done/what I'm here to do," he sings, and let's hope it's not another seven years before he resumes his mission. (Nothing)