Call me a cynic but I tend to shy away from saccharine, fun-sized pop hits. You know, those tracks that fill up radio airwaves with their juvenile rhymes, overuse of “baby”s and “your lips”s and disgustingly generic chords. But surprisingly, I found myself warming up to Matt Nathanson’s Modern Love, which can easily be filed into the aforementioned category. Perhaps its the incredible vivacity of the feel-good melodies or his smooth vocals painting snapshots of summer love. Whatever reasoning went behind the production, Modern Love is a charming execution that will melt even the hardest of hearts.
Love is string that ties all the little pop gems into one dazzling, hopelessly buoyant package. Nathanson croons and sighs his way throughout Modern Love, exploring every nook and cranny of relationships. Of course, this proves to be hard to swallow if you’re a bitter old realist but his incorporation of different styles and influences keeps listeners entertained, regardless of their investment in the topic matter. From the country twangs of Jennifer Nettles-aided “Run” to the dreamy quietness of “Kiss Quick” to the edgy, electric-guitar heavy “Mercy,” there is never a dull moment.
Modern Love captures your attention, plain and simple. Nathanson breaks away from his previous mold of sappy romance and experiments with a wider range of emotions and techniques. Admittedly, several tracks still border on roll-your-eyes cliched but Modern Love brims with blithe optimism, yet its innovative hooks keeps it from coming off as much too bubbly. Take the sunny “Faster,” for example. The track climbed the music charts and is the perfect soundtrack for a summer fling. It showcases Nathanson’s uncanny ability to turn a common experience into something that is wildly catchy but subtly elegant, ensuring that Modern Love’s tired subject matter can still delight in the most uplifting way possible.
Cynthia Kang is the arts editor.