This is one of Anie’s album reviews. I’ve limited myself to one sentence per song.
Who Should Buy This: Dancers, pop music fans, happy people, and those nostalgic for big 80’s beats.
Album: Gun Shy
Artist: Matt Wertz
Genre: dance/electronic, pop, singer/songwriter
Music Rating: 9/10
Lyrics Rating: 8/10
Sounds Like: Maroon 5, Michael Jackson, Parachute
One Sentence Summary: This album is singer/songwriter gone hairbrush pop, making it a fun combination of party music and introspection perfect for those with a musical sweet tooth, or for those who need something a bit more substantial.
Best thing About this Album: It’s so fun and dance-y, but it can also lead to some deep ponderance upon art and life. This album is a serious or as silly as you’d like it to be. This music can be listened to in layers to suit your current musical mood or mental energy level.
One thing I wish was different: I like that this music drew a lot of references, but because of the focused diversity (which I think is a good thing), not every song was my favorite. Going even further, not every decision within each song was my favorite as far as musical decisions go. It’s a personal preference thing. There is something here for every aspect of pop music, but not everyone is going to love every aspect of pop music. I do, however, love it as a whole.
Website: Matt Wertz
This is one of the singles from “Gun Shy”. To listen to the whole album, click on the playlist below this video and log in to Spotify. If you don’t have a Spotify account, you might consider getting a free account, or read through this review and see if you want to purchase the album yourself through Matt’s website or your preferred music store.
80’s dance-pop music sets what will be the tone for the whole album as Matt starts the album with a necessity of any lasting relationship: commitment.
Can’t not talk about: While this song may come across as a frivolous relationship song, I can’t help but feel connected to the cause as he seems to profess his complete dedication and wholehearted devotion to his art. That is a powerful sentiment that moves me, even though it comes in party packaging.
Pulsing 80’s synth introduce this song, soon joined by explosive percussion, electric guitar, and distinctive harmonies while the lyrics speak of the mesmerizing beauty of that which is immaterial and unattainable.
Can’t not talk about: This song is not my fav, but it is the track that started this album, so I must thank it for that. And truthfully, I do love the song conceptually. The pursuit of the impossible has lead to greatness many a time, and this song is no exception.
The opening takes me back to 90’s video games — Commander Keen, y’all! — and honestly, that’s all I really care about (fine, there’s a happy, sugary, lemonade, summer-time lyrical vibe).
Can’t not talk about: I already was super digging the 8bit 90’s computer vibe, but YASSSSSS @smooth soaring of 0:30. In other news, I’m not a huge fan of spelling-bee songs. It isn’t entirely anachronistic though!
4. Slow Motion*
Aptly slowing down a bit, this song keeps its strong ties to synthesizers intact, but adds in some acoustic guitar while the lyrical message portrays the desire to live in the moment, appreciate what’s in front of you, and exist independently of the persistent march of time.
Can’t not talk about: This song shares some similar sentiments from “Pause” by Safetysuit, yet the two songs seem to take opposite perspectives on the same emotion. Also, brother’s got range on this song. Props!
5. Unexpected Love*
Taking on a more ethereal quality musically and embracing full vocal range (with a particular showcase on Matt’s falsetto), this song is a catchy, slow groove celebrating the joy of unanticipated fortuity.
Can’t not talk about: I really love the technicality of the lyrics in this song. It makes the assimilatory singability of the music that much more enjoyable.
6. Easy Things Hard
Putting the bass in a more predominant role for the first time, this song is a painfully relatable lament of the human tendency to overcomplicate things due to insecurities.
Can’t not talk about: “Why do my beginnings always end this way?” This song is probably my very favorite song from this album.
7. Y K W Y K
Subliminally foreshadowed in the previous track, powerful electric guitar (along with some straightforward pop-rock drums and synths) lay the musical foundation for a lyrical message somewhat reminiscent of track #5, though individual in its own right.
Can’t not talk about: When a song is titled using its abbreviation, I can’t help but wonder at its purpose. It could be to catch your eye, to shroud itself in order to heighten the impact of foreshadowing from the previous track, or to call your mind back to track #3. I’m personally convinced that the decision to title the track that way was to promote the importance of albums and see who’s paying attention. Though possibly, it was just done to pique interest and make people curious. Perchance it was to point out the symmetry as purposeful rather than defaulting on unsophisticated, repetitious language. Maybe he’s just really wanting to drive home the genre of the album in case we all missed it somehow. I’m going to go with strengthening the artistic integrity and validity of the album as a medium of art. I suppose You Know When You Know.
8. Patient Heart
I love me some snaps, and this song is not holding back with its over-the-top 80’s music effects and an underlying message of reassurance that a true connection cannot be scared away by understanding the full truth of a person.
Can’t not talk about: Holy 80’s, Batman! This song is almost wearing Michael Jackson as a Halloween costume! It’s a tad gimmicky, but super fun. The tone of this song will gain more purposeful meaning after listening to track #11.
9. Stars Align
Piano-oriented ambience starts the track off musically with some wonderful percussion and perfectly understated synths providing support to amazingly-crafted lyrics about unity in humanity as contrasted with the alignment of nature and the heavens.
Can’t not talk about: “It’s so scary to be known, but I don’t want to be alone.”
10. Hold On To Me
In a heartbreaking plea to the universe lamenting the loss of love, faith, and identity, but still trying to hold on, the snaps come back in with resonant piano, specifically placed synths, and an abundance of purposefully strange sound effects building up a soundscape of ordered confusion in a beautiful chaos of the mind and heart.
Can’t not talk about: “Deep in the black and white” near the end of this song draws my mind back to the introduction of the album at the beginning of the first track, contrasting with “I’m no black and white”. I feel as though this is a powerful narrative of progression and his relationship with his art that is actually personified quite well in the album cover.
11. Gun Shy (Change)
Slowing down once more, and using a slightly updated take on the sound profile used heretofore, the music seems to draw from modern dance/electronic music, this song being a perfectly vulnerable view into the other side of track #8.
Can’t not talk about: “No walls between the two of us. This love is getting dangerous” feels to me like a callback to track #9. Earning a place of honor as the album’s titular track, it is worth noting that “Gun Shy” does not actually appear within the lyrics of the song. It’s purely conceptual. I like when art points out those things that are left unsaid.
12. How I Remember You
Continuing with the dance/electronic theme, the music is a pulsating chill energy of rapid, bouncy movements that blend into a smooth sonic fabrication, emitting a calming push of energy with lyrics that are equally confounding and contrasting, in constant search of a balance between oxymoron and memories that tip dangerously between opposite extremes.
Can’t not talk about: “Wrong and right, black and white. That’s how I remember you.” <–Mic drop
Conclusion: This album is very fun and frivolous, splashing on the surface in its sound, but also houses enough substance in hidden layers for those who care to go swimming in its depths.
Denotes my favorites
* Denotes songs released as singles