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Single Review: MattO “The Angels Went Back To Heaven”

If you think that the best in rock music is coming out of the underground in 2023, you probably don’t know anything about a singer/songwriter by the name of MattO, who will singlehandedly change your thought process on the subject with his new single “The Angels Went Back To Heaven” this spring. As opposed to following the same formulaic songwriting scheme a lot of his contemporaries have perpetuated across the mainstream over the past five years, MattO is neither interested in getting back to basics nor following a popular trend in “The Angels Went Back To Heaven;” he’s an honest player offering us smooth music his way, and it’s quite the intriguing listen indeed.

The indie ethics this artist has are difficult to ignore when studying the structure of “The Angels Went Back To Heaven,” especially when looking into the production style through which the music has been recorded. There isn’t a big boost in the vocal where there would otherwise be a bassline in the master mix, and instead of injecting artificial twang into the harmonies, the string play is completely organic, giving the effect of a live performance in a setting otherwise too sterile to achieve such a sound. It took some thinking, but this piece is as close to the real deal as we can acquire without seeing its designer play live.



MattO’s execution is spot-on perfection, and I would even say that he sounds more like a man playing directly to the audience than he does someone in a booth trying desperately to make love to the mic. There’s a big difference between someone who strives for that kind of intimacy with the medium and someone who already has it when they step into the studio with a concept or even just a couple of lines they know they want in a song, and to me, this man is definitely in the latter group.

There’s certainly a smooth rock rhythm guiding the fretwork at the top of the mix, but I’d be hesitant to call it the same slow-rolling groove that’s been tripping into the alternative pop movement becoming increasingly popular on college radio in the United States at the moment. This tempo is conducive to MattO producing a lush, casual backdrop to the lyrics, but even if he were to kick it up for a live performance, there’s still enough flexibility in the construction of the hook to give our leading man a lot of space to work with.

“The Angels Went Back To Heaven” is undeniably a new favorite listen of mine going into the spring season, and I don’t think you even need to be as big a rock music lover as I am to get behind the artistic direction its composer is going in right now. MattO makes no apologies for rejecting the trajectory his fellow troubadours are on at the moment, and while not quite as much of an outlaw as he is the traditional singer/songwriter that the genre needs at the moment, his rebellious side is absolutely on full display in this amazing release.


Keith Middlebrooks


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