Syd Matters

As if M83's output over the last four years hasn't sufficiently shamed America for its post-9/11 tantrum of France-bashing, here's another one-Gaul wonder: Jonathan Morali, aka Syd Matters. This eponymous double-disc collection compiles Morali's two previous import releases, Someday We Will Foresee Obstacles and A Whisper and a Sigh. The former is a threadbare fabric of billowy strums and grave vocals comparable to Beck's Sea Change; the latter is a slightly more lush multi-instrumental affair on par with Badly Drawn Boy's The Hour of Bewilderbeast. What the two have in common is Morali's disarming and openhearted pop genius. Suspended between the worldly and the naive, the romantic and the deadpan, his songs reflect both mystery and insight -- like impressionistic portraits of the listener's own soul. And he doesn't even stoop to reciprocate our xenophobia; in fact, on the sublime "To All of You," he cracks his voice and lets flow the lines "To all of you American girls/It's sad to imagine a world without you/I wish I had an American girlfriend." Tom Petty himself couldn't have said it better.

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