Album Review | Matt Nathanson – Modern Love

Speakers Rating: 89/100

Kiss quick
I got a line out the door
Who all think
they can save me

When I interviewed Matt Nathanson a few years ago, I remember him telling me that he wanted his newest album at the time, Some Mad Hope, to be the one that defined him as an artist. Of course, it eventually was a great success, with “Come On Get Higher” turning into a radio hit. The thing is, though, I’m not sure that was even the best song on the album. My vote will always go to the beautiful “Bulletproof Weeks.” But hey, that’s just me.

Fast forward a few years, and Nathanson is here again, offering a new collection of songs called Modern Love. It’s mostly carefully crafted pop music, with the occasional rocker thrown in for good measure, or maybe that’s just to distract you a bit. Because the real beauty of Modern Love is that it connects with the listener through love: the idea of two people being alone together, still being able to exist in the moment — a moment where we are focused and not obsessing over objects seemingly better than ourselves.

In a sense, this idea that two people can still really love each other is defined in “Room at the End of the World,” where Nathanson sings, “Sad can’t catch me, or call me baby now/ When it’s all I used to believe.” Here, Nathanson believes that you can re-write all wrongs, you can be safe with your lover, and really, that’s all that matters, right? It’s a beautiful piece of pop music that still seems real — that “one heart is never enough alone.”

Later, during “Kiss Quick,” we’re taken into a different world (the real world, perhaps?) where the transient nature of the human race is mocked. We’re no longer holding each other, sweating with each other; we’re freaking disappearing, one by one, until we’re all alone. Sound depressing? Well, not really. It’s just the damn truth. One minute, someone wants to save you. The next, they’re gone, perhaps when someone or something else “better” presents itself. Loyalty and love — can they always unconditionally co-exist? Nathanson asks this on Modern Love.

The best song on the album, which surely will be heard by many, is the title track. It’s a little cheesy with its intro, but it’s also damn catchy. “Take the phone calls/ Take the circus/ Take the drama, ’cause baby, it’s just worthless,” Natahnson sings. Again, the message is clear: love — modern love — is tricky, sometimes pointless.

What I’m getting at here is that no matter how much we need someone else to connect with in life, in the end, there’s a very great possibility that loneliness is what’s lurking in the end. The idea of “forever” isn’t what rings true on this record; it’s more that we need to embrace the moments that we’re together, even if they can’t or won’t last until the end of time. And sometimes, that has to be enough.

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