written by Maura Johnston
Having established himself as a talented songwriter and performer on his 2014 album Farewell Motel, Boston-based avant pop specialist Matthew Connor is now ready to submerge his stories in sonic muck. Night After Night, his new EP, presents a different side of Connor—one that luxuriates in harshly beautiful songs that can be sunk into, that can accompany middle-of-the-night crying over rudderless sadness.
Night After Night opens with the title track, a tale of loneliness where Connor's baritone is first encountered as it floats in space, surrounded by tense programmed drums and rippling synths; the occasional beamed-in choir only accentuates the feelings of urban anomie at the song's core. Its slow build into something more menacing, with zipline keyboards and Connor's voice soaring into a regretful falsetto, is spellbinding and chilling. "Since We Landed," which follows, is a dispatch from the caverns of the type of depression that can't be shared, despite its possessor being almost uncomfortably close to another person; its woozy background vocals and well-deep bass drums add to the despondency. "Scarlet Four O'Clock" is a hymn for those who can simultaneously find solace in its harsh synth blasts and Connor's expansive croon. The EP's mood lifts just enough on "Batman & Robin," its airy closing track, which takes a lighter yet no less moody touch; it's a lullaby for those insomniacs who need comfort more than they need sleep.
Throughout his career, Connor's work has been influenced by his love of film; he creates brief, fleeting moments that fold in on one another, portraying the emotions that serve as undercurrents to everyday life. (Connor conceptualized and directed the videos accompanying Night After Night's tracks, including the eye-popping video for "Scarlet Four O'Clock" and the ASMR-nodding clip paired with the title track.) The cinematic scope of Night After Night, however, doesn't need visual accompaniment to be experienced; its songs swirl and crackle, fully enveloping listeners with their detailed sonics and emotional heft.
The Alabama-born Connor studied voice and composition at North Carolina School of the Arts before relocating to Boston. On Night After Night, he takes his prodigious talent and rigorous training to craft songs that are covered in static and hiss and distortion, but sparkle underneath the noise surrounding them. Matthew Connor is one of Boston's most vibrant musicians, and Night After Night finds him dredging up deeply buried ugliness in service of creating art that’s as startling as it is gorgeous.