It's not just Elastica and My Bloody Valentine who can disappear for years on end. Teaching them a thing or two about sloth, The The managed to give most of the '90s a wide berth. There's a seemingly good reason. Matt Johnson - essentially The The plus session musos -like several alternative comedians, found his political bile floundering by the downfall of Thatcherism. So - relocated to New York- he's reined in his political targets to focus on universals like conspicuous vapid consumption and rampant globalisation, while turning mainly to the personal. Don't worry though, he evidently still thinks life sucks.
Instead of flexing his rhetoric then, he now pounds the streets of his adopted home, noting the swell and duplicity of humanity, and pondering fracturing relationships and encroaching middle age. Which should be a recipe for tedious navel-gazing but, recorded with a Luddite's zeal- no keyboards, samplers, sequencers - he's avoided that and managed to document the clanking claustrophobia of modern life. What's more, he's infused it with a warm crackling beauty. So while he might occasionally punk out ('SaltWater'), or approximate the brutal rhythms of latter-day Primal Scream ('BoilingPoint'), these are mainly simple guitar strums - albeit tortured and stripped to the bone. Make the most of this furrowed-brow reappearance while you can. The next might be a long time coming.
-- Jim Alexander