Matthew Sweet’s 1991 album Girlfriend is nothing short of power pop perfection. From the opening hook of “Divine Intervention” to the closing heart wrenching sadness of “Nothing Lasts,” Girlfriend is a stellar album top to bottom. The songs have hooks and heartbreak all over and the result is possibly the greatest break-up album ever written. Girlfriend was written during a low period in Sweet’s life. He had been released from his contract with A&M Records and divorced his wife and the ensuing depression resulted in what can easily be considered his magnum opus.
The record opens with the incredibly catchy “Divine Intervention,” a song about the whims of a relationship, how love can be there and in bloom one day and gone the next, perfectly setting the tone for the rest of the record. Other stand-out moments include “I Wanted to Tell You,” “I’ve Been Waiting” (the record’s second single), and two of the best power pop/pop rock songs ever written in the heart-moving desperation of “Evangeline” and the insanely catchy “Girlfriend.” It is the album’s title track that was its lead single and Sweet’s biggest hit. What makes “Girlfriend” work so well, aside from it being one of the most infectious songs ever written, is that it speaks directly to the heart of every lonely soul desperate for someone with whom to share his (or her) affections and love. In fact I would say that is the entire theme of Girlfriend from start to finish. This is an album that perfectly expresses the emotions of lonely desperation, longing, and hope for a love that will take the pain away.
In 2006 the album was re-mastered and re-released with three bonus tracks that originally appeared on the “Girlfriend” single and a second disc of live and acoustic tracks that had originally been available through his fan club entitled Goodfriend: Another Take on Girlfriend.
Girlfriend was an album that spent a lot of time in my tape deck in 1991 and helped me get through high school. In fact, Girlfriend was one of my favorite albums of 1991 and it is an album that sounds as fresh today, 20 years later, as it did when it was first released. The songs on this record deal with a universal theme that we have all probably identified with at one time or another. Musically the songs take the shape of that classic pop rock sound that never really goes out of style.