Besides Jellyfish’s (sadly meager) output, Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend is pretty much my template for “power pop” as a musical genre; it has the 1960s emphasis on harmonies, guitars and songs that are easy to singalong to, but it also has a particularly 1990s sheen to the overall production. That’s what “power pop” is, for me; an attempt to evoke the 1960s in a very then-contemporary way (Things like Lilys’ Better Can’t Make Your Life Better, for example, with a sound that’s far, far closer to the actual production values of the original ’60s pop and garage bands, are something other than power pop, for some reason; I know that it’s a particularly weird line to have, but it’s mine and it’s there, dammit. Sorry). In those terms, I’m not sure it gets much better than “Girlfriend,” which is Sweet in full-on sugary-pop mode giving it his all with his nasal voice and love of guitar solos. Outside of all the “ooooooh” and “aaaaaaaah” backing vocals – which I adore, no joke – what really makes this song so memorable for me are the lyrics, which are so… childlike, I guess, in such a weird way: “I wanna love somebody/I hear you need somebody to love” and “Oh honey, believe me/I’d sure like to call you my girlfriend” are the kinds of things that you’d expect from someone who’s never been in any kind of relationship ever, which I somehow manage to take as charming rather than, say, offputtingly naive. So much of Sweet’s 1990s peak feels like the work of someone who’s obsessively listened to their favorite records over and over again, taking them apart to see how they work and then trying to recreate them with each new song they write, and that idea follows through on “Girlfriend,” which you can believe is the work of someone who’s so much of a music nerd that they’ve not had time to actually pursue a real life relationship of their own. And yet… that kind of nerditry appeals to me, here; if you’re going to write a song called “Girlfriend,” why not have it sound as if it’s being sung by someone for whom that word still holds a special charge…?