By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
North Texas-based pop-rocker and former Quickserv Johnny frontman Matthew Glenn Thompson isn't looking to reinvent the radio with his album, The Garden and The Arcade. In fact, there is very little that one would deem hip, let alone cutting-edge, about this enjoyable collection of soul and folk-inflected pop. But, really, when tried-and-true is done as intelligently and melodically attractive as it is here, innovation would be little more than trendy overkill.
Of course, there are certain moments when this well-polished vessel veers perilously close to a Mraz-style syrup spill, but the agile inclusion of piano and orchestral strings often arrives, just in time, to lift the tunes above typical, singer-songwriter, surface-level gleefulness and doe-eyed wonder. And, with "Ordinary Girl" and "Half of Whole," the employ of clanging electric guitars introduces a crunch factor into an otherwise buttery-smooth mix.
Another aspect that sets this successfully varied album apart from many other recent power-pop offerings comes in the form of Thompson's fervent delivery. Thompson's vocals provide the album some distinction as he takes on a Costello-style garrulousness when he sings in lower tones, effectively spelling any pretty-boy pop illusions and supplying a good dose of coveted character.
For as broad of a term as "pop" truly is, few area artists are able to explore the genre's various corners with as much ease and authority as Thompson does so well here.