Southern California native G Matthews has released her new album Chasing Happy today. Matthews is an unfettered spirit, intent to mix many genres and cultivate a sound that’s truly unique and her own. Granted, nothing is entirely original these days — and Chasing Happy is no exception. The good news is that the bands and artists Matthews draws obvious inspiration from are some of the pop and rock world’s best. As a result, Chasing Happy has some real tunes.
Chasing Happy kicks off with a bang; “Oh Shall We Start Over” lives up to comparisons to Paramore and Echosmith. There’s a spunky, defiant attitude that propels the track and album forward. A more rock-driven song, “Backtrack” has a divine bridge. The track is full of adrenaline as intended, but it lacks a sense of clarity. Matthews is full of exuberant energy, but a cluttered instrumental leaves her vocals struggling to take the spotlight.
“Doin It Right” gets the mix of production and vocals perfect, with catchy and upbeat lyrics to boot. When it comes to tracks with revolutionary potential, this tops the list. “Doin It Right” is a bit of a transitory track, as Chasing Happy switches to a more pop feel with “Small Talk.” Matthews is frustrated by a lover’s empty promises, longing for something more serious. It’s your fairly typical pop song — but Matthews doesn’t stick to that box for long.
“Cheer For Yourself” busts out of that box; think Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” meets the rocker edge of No Doubt. Not sure if there’s a higher compliment for a song, but “Cheer For Yourself” deserves it. Like “Doin It Right” before it, Matthews’ songs are best when they’re motivational. When it comes to this alternative-pop/rock sound, artists face a fine line between angsty and fresh. While Chasing Happy tiptoes in both directions of the line, when the album nails it, it does so in spades.
Stripped-back production on “Unsacred” is a refreshing breather. It’s enjoyable to hear Matthews’s vocals, especially on a track filled with emotion and heartache.
Chasing Happy switches to full-on pop mode with “Something Special”, which is another motivational song, but it loses the spark that accompanied “Doin It Right” and “Cheer For Yourself.” The magic in those tracks was their fusion of the rock sound with typical pop lyrics. Here, a typical pop song is paired with a typical pop melody, so “Something Special” loses that fresh edge.
“This Bridge” is another highlight, with raw and edgy lyrics on a more doo-woppy beat melding together for some lovely pop music.
The album’s titular track has an accompanying music video to let viewers get a look at Matthews and her image and sound. If Chasing Happy had to be boiled down to one song, this would be it. The pop takeover fades away and Chasing Happy goes back to its alt-pop/rock sound with “Pennies and Bricks”, which sounds directly lifted off Paramore’s Riot! , and the album then draws to a close with an outro.
G Matthews melds alternative rock and pop on Chasing Happy, and the result is an enjoyable album with a few real gems. “Doin’ It Right”, “Cheer for Yourself” and “The Bridge” showcase the best of Matthews. As her music continues to find its niche in the alt-rock/pop world, she’ll just keep getting better.