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Album Review: Matt Nathanson’s ‘Last of the Great Pretenders’

Nathanson’s latest production will you have pining for the golden days (and the Golden Gate Bridge).

By Madison Feller | July 17, 2013

Tags: Music Reviews


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No one likes math in the summertime. But just for a second, take Taylor Swift. Subtract the innocent doe eyes, red lipstick and springy curls. Add a leather jacket, a few curse words and a nose ring. Lastly, divide out all the screaming 12-year-olds, and multiply by ten years of wisdom and experience.

After your brain stops hurting, what should you have left? Matt Nathanson’s Last of the Great Pretenders.

Nathanson’s new eleven-track album, which gives off the same "Swift sensation" of reading a diary entry -- but without all the on-again, off-again break ups — has come out just in time to round out your July playlist.

With an apparent nod back to his roots, Nathanson’s tenth record explores his days in his hometown of San Francisco. The references range from lyrical nods to specific streets in Northern California (“meet me at Ninth and Irving”) to song titles explicitly sharing his love for his city (“Last Days of Summer in San Francisco”).

And as a whole, the album does feel like a throwback -- at least to the old days of Matt. His last album, Modern Love, felt like the grown-up, refined version of Nathanson, whereas Last of the Great Pretenders has the same components of some of his earlier work: personal stories and raw vocals.

While it’s nice to hear some old-school Nathanson, the album does have a few holes in it, namely the lack of one of his usual, smoldering love songs. “Sunday New York Times” and “Sky High Honey” give us a taste, but there’s nothing quite as sexy as the love anthems he’s produced in the past.

Still, it’s nice to see that Nathanson hasn’t strayed too far from the type of sound that helped build his fanbase. And if you’re itching to hear him for yourself, have no fear. Nathanson has plans to hit The Blue Note this November.

MOVE gives Last of the Great Pretenders 3.5 stars out of 5.

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