Today, New Zealand alt-pop multi-talented songwriter, instrumentalist and producer, Matthew Young, shares his long anticipated debut album, It’s a Feeling, out now.
Since the end of 2018, Matthew has rejected a traditional studio environment, instead writing on the road, and recording from isolated Airbnb’s in his home Aotearoa (New Zealand). It’s a Feeling came together in the subsequent years, during periods where Matthew dedicated time to unraveling the intricacies of his mental health via the medium of musical vulnerability. The end result finds arrested beauty, as Matthew Young’s brand of unconventional, and complex pop weaves within your heart strings, much like the rare friend who dares to sit with you in life’s challenging moments. Matthew, determined to balance the uncut edges between bedroom pop, and the forefront of contemporary music, fuses delicately placed production and witty lyrics to serve a stunningly sharp album to accompany each day’s rollercoaster.
Opening to “Who Am I to You?”, a clicking rhythm starts the clock as synths roll up and down in octaves, and Matthew matches with his own varying highs, begging to question, ‘who am I to you?’ Instantly addictive, the track segues into an album’s prior single. “Boneheaded” is a tongue-in-cheek take on clever phrasings with a quintessential drawl that can be heard throughout the album. A tempered beat provides a steady rhythm as loaded guitars grind and jangle throughout, beneath a piano solo and clanking percussion.
Next, “Headcase” provides an adrenaline rush of saccharine word play and a clever use of space, as deep hums of bass accompany Matthew’s lyrics which read like a diary. Added flourishes of horn and twinkling guitars akin to Paul Simon’s Graceland or Peter Gabriel’s brightest works, build a repeated motif across the album, as Matthew’s crescendoing world of pop-fusion becomes bigger and bolder. Soon, “Belong” brings jilted synths, with a pop-punk like attitude about devotion to an engrossing love. Accompanied by little more than the strums of Matthew’s guitar, new single “Fool Around” becomes a barometer to the depth in which Matthew’s songwriting skills bring life’s most complex emotions to the bubble.
“Good Things” arrives next as a moody guitar-pop number to further showcase the introspective side of Matthew’s alt-pop world. The track’s hazy guitar chords and booming 808 kick signal a tight drum-machine groove to snap into place. Next, “Missing” is a woozier take as Matthew experiments on his signature brand of surly crooning, by leaning into where the modes of contemplation can take us. Soon, “Like Falling” combines a bright soundscape in stark juxtaposition to its lyricism centered on substance abuse, telling how Matthew picked up the pieces in the aftermath. Jangly percussion and broad strums of guitar build and pace, converge on a euphoric hook.
Funked-out and laidback, “Ziptied” then sees Young pair a laid back reggae-inspired groove to his off-kilter melodies. A quality slowjam of tight drums, rhodes keys, and an irresistible croon, speaks to the pressures in attaining perfection. Next, “Breeze In” ushers sharp stabs of guitar, and a metallic bassline before a husky vocal haze sees Matthew mumble melodic catch-phrases impossible to forget. A sunny chorus portrays a vulnerable side to Matthew’s journey thus far. Final track, “An Endless Dream Of You” is a sum of the album’s most precious parts, from its spacious synths to clicking rhythms and punctuated one-liners that cut deep at an emotional core. It’s a fitting closer and nod to the spectrum of possibilities that lie on the path to navigating our mental health, be it perspective shifts, bookmarked moments, steps back or forward.
On It’s a Feeling, Matthew says: “This album is basically the story of my life over the last 5 years or so, told in a kind of fragmented, semi non-chronological way. Reconciling a bi-polar diagnosis, the trials of finding the right drugs, repairing broken relationships, realising what really matters in life, etc. The yin-yang of delusions of grandeur vs. crippling self doubt, psychosis vs. reality, healthy vs. unhealthy, blah blah blah.
The album has been compiled in a way that I feel personally sums up the journey and the cyclic, ebb and flow nature of bi-polar disorder: the peaks and the valleys. Musically speaking, I wanted the album as a whole to reflect how mental illness is more commonly experienced day-to-day; almost passively. Mental illness has been such a hot topic over the last few years (and for good reason), but the discourse and expression through media is (in my own opinion) often communicated in a way that feels like a movie trope; snap shots of all the most difficult moments, ignoring the in-between stuff—the less extreme, almost mundane ‘daily-life’ part. I wanted the music to be able to live in these middle moments, as much as the ups and downs.”
Prior to the album’s arrival, Matthew’s string of acclaimed singles which included “Like Falling”, “Boneheaded”, “Ziptied” and “Headcase” have each seen tastemaker praise from MTV, Pilerats, Sniffers, Purple Sneakers and more, alongside global playlisting on Spotify’s New Music Friday, and continued support from triple j in Australia.
Matthew Young first made his debut in 2015, when his Dive EP received nods from Troye Sivan, Oyster Magazine and i-D. Three years later, his sophomore EP Fruit, arrived to resounding success. To date, Fruit has amassed over 10 million streams, with singles “Collect” and “Hey” both landing triple j’s #1 Most Played. On stage, Matthew Young has performed to sold out Australian and New Zealand audiences, as well as supported the likes of Lorde, and was handpicked to perform at the Laneway Presents ARIA Showcase. In late 2019, Matthew Young teamed up with favourite electronic duo, Cosmo’s Midnight for their single “It’s Love“, which sits at over 5 million streams and again became triple j’s Most Played, and also performed at Nest Fest in New Zealand earlier this year.
It’s a Feeling is a rare record bursting with poppy charms and lyrical wit, where each track’s melody is an impressive earworm. Long a trademark of the pop genre that very few can hold onto, it’s one Matthew Young does with a seeming simplistic ease that’ll have you in awe. Rinse and repeat his debut album today, we promise you won’t have to be told twice.
IT’S A FEELING IS OUT NOW