Matt Pless - Cheap Shots on the Rocks (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Matt Pless

Cheap Shots on the Rocks (2022)


Matt Pless is a guy that looks like Marc Bolan that plays music that sounds like Blink-182 that writes lyrics that are like Adam Green. His new album Cheap Shot on the Rocks finds him painting vivid pictures which are supported by a melodic backbone. Opening track “Disco ball” reminds me of Mischief Brew in that the song rises and falls with a broad melody while Pless winds together various visions, often coming close to surrealism, all while introducing a refrain that is so tightly wound into the track that it doesn’t sound like a refrain.

“Play it again Archie” finds him sliding away from the folk-punk background (even though all the songs here are electric) and more towards a pop-punk angle. But, Pless’ brain is packed with so many ideas that even when he tries to be simple, he crams in an entire treatise’s worth of words… and then drops the pop-punk pretense and kicks out of Chuck Berry style solo- and that’s what makes this music so well done. He’s borrowing from a lot of established genres, but he bolts them together with his non-stop wordspiel so that it comes across as being cohesive and unique. I also like when he talks about how much he used to love drugs.

Pless has been pitching Cheap Shots as his definitive album and it is. It finds him doing what he does the best he has ever done it. It’s a lot to take in, but the melody underneath the ranting makes it go down quite easily.