The The – “Lonely Planet,” “The Whisperers”

I became a big fan of Matt Johnson, aka The the, after buying his fourth studio album, “Mind Bomb,” in 1989. The moment I heard the Islamic call to prayer that kicks off “Good Morning Beautiful,” I was hooked.

“I know that God lives in everybody’s souls
and the only devil in your world
lives in the human heart.”

It’s a sprawling, ambitious effort that takes on Western philosophy and Christianity, with Johnny Marr on lead guitar.

As epic an effort as “Mind Bomb” was, 1993’s “Dusk” was equally ambitious, while more accessible musically and lyrically. Matt focuses less on politics and the world writ large, and more on himself. Sort of. By album’s end, on the track “Lonely Planet,” he seems to have arrived close to where he began.

“Planet Earth is slowing down
Overseas, underground
Wherever you look around
Lord, take me by the hand
lead me through these desert sands
To the shores of a promised land.

You make me start when you look into my heart
And see me for who I really am.

If you can’t change the world. Change yourself.
If you can’t change the world. Change yourself.

“Nakedself,” the 2000 album from which the track below, “The Whisperers,” came, feels like a continuation of the themes Matt explored in “Dusk.”

Dan Gardopee reviewed Nakedself for Pitchfork:

NakedSelf once again finds Matt Johnson in his element, tackling issues of alienation, global corruption, and urban squalor and decay with potent, more succinct lyrics and some of his most affecting melodies in ages

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