A mournful piano figure opens Matthew Sweet's latest effort, set against gently muttered threats against himself and an unnamed person. The violent fantasy contained in the lyrics of "Bought Myself a Cat O Nine" lets the listener know right away that Boduf Songs' established fondness for gore-stained imagery will be in evidence on "This Alone Above All Else In Spite of Everything." On his third release for Kranky under the business name of Boduf Songs, Sweet continues to add more instrumentation to his music, increasing its sonic sprawl without losing any of its intimacy.
A song like "Decapitation Blues" rocks out efficiently, expanding the framework of Boduf Songs' sound, while "I Have Decided To Pass Through Matter" and "The Giant Umbilical Cord That Connects Your Brain To the Centre" travel over more familiar slowcore territory. The languid, deliberate "Giant Umbilical..." is a particularly strong piece, as a simple four-note acoustic guitar figure is joined by a sequence of different sounds--first guitar harmonics, then an electric guitar arpeggio, a drum pulse, and a sliding, woozy bassline. The precise structure of these different layers dissolves into a murky drone, mesmeric and thick-sounding.
"We Get On Slowly" combines a simple drum machine pattern, an undulating bass line, and a minor-key two-chord synth riff to create a shyly funky song that sounds like it wouldn't be out of place on a late-era For Carnation record. "I Am Going Away and I Am Never Coming Back" closes the disc like it should be closed--with a breakup song, rife with loathing and artful despair. A pile of guitars and brushed drums add dramatic flourish to the song's quiet build-up, set up by a guitar break that harkens back to the early days of Mogwai.
In the disc's lesser moments the various textures and noises can come off as slightly distracting to the overall context of the songs. Sweet's a literate fellow to be sure, but the many references to cracked skulls, tears, blood, and various existential and physical aches become slightly repetitive as the disc progresses. These are fairly minor complaints, however; Sweet's work has maintained a high level of uniqueness and consistency throughout his string of Kranky releases. "This Alone Above All Else In Spite of Everything" fits in well with his past while also demonstrating a healthy sense of aesthetic restlessness. 7/10 -- Mike Griffin (11 August, 2010)