The The NakedSelf (Nothing)
Reviewed by Christopher Hess, Fri., March 31, 2000
NakedSelf (Nothing)Serious as ever, intense to the verge of melodrama, possessed of a worldview that hasn't brightened any since the dawn of the Reagan era, Matt Johnson, aka The The, has emerged from another of his characteristic, interminable silences with NakedSelf. Half a decade has passed since Johnson's tribute to Hank Williams, Hanky Panky, and even longer since a full-length original release. But then, Johnson never did produce new music at a blistering rate, and the emotional, intellectually charged, and overall cohesive nature of works like Mind Bomb and Dusk might explain the lengthy lapses. Regardless, NakedSelf is a solid return, appropriately dark and seedy when lyrics turn to interpersonal relationships (or the impossibility thereof), as they usually do. Like Dusk, the songs here examine the urban paradox of isolation on the topical fronts of sex, religion, and politics. "December Sunlight" is particularly gorgeous and nefariously hopeful, and most of the rest of NakedSelf, especially "Swine Fever" and "Weather Belle," is exhaustively produced and unerringly creepy. Bolstering Johnson's breathy tenor are strong contributions from guitarist Eric Schermerhorn and drummer Earl Harvin, rounding out a combo that jumps from whisper to thunder with heady precision, amplifying the angst and howling frustration in Johnson's voice and words. If NakedSelf can't have the impact today that Mind Bomb did over a decade ago, it's surely not for lack of passion or conviction. For whatever that's worth.