CD Review: Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs

Under the Covers Vol. 2 (Shout! Factory)

Whoever came up with the idea of pairing pop-rock maestro Matthew Sweet and Bangles angel Susanna Hoffs should get some kind of congressional recognition or the American version of knighting. The twosome got together three years ago for the first installment of Under the Covers, where they revisited some of the seminal songs from their teen years, recast with a contemporary shimmer and obvious affection and reverence. It offered a balance of recognizable hits (Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl") and obsessive fan obscurities (the Zombies' "Care of Cell #44"), refracted through Sweet and Hoffs' brilliant pop prism. For the second volume, the pair stick to more recognizable songs but with an equally impressive range that finds them visiting the acid-washed country of the Grateful Dead's "Sugar Magnolia," the pop magnificence of the Raspberries' "Go All the Way," the slinky melancholy of Derek and the Dominoes' "Bell Bottom Blues," the bitter condemnation of John Lennon's "Gimme Some Truth," and the soaring pop genius of Todd Rundgren's "Hello It's Me" and "Couldn't I Just Tell You." As with Vol. 1, Sweet and Hoffs amplify the pop aspects of songs that were pop in the first place (Fleetwood Mac's "Second Hand News," Carly Simon's "You're So Vain") and inject a tart pop edge where it might not be expected. Brian Baker

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