Unfamiliar Faces

Metascore
59

Mixed or average reviews - based on 13 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 13
  2. Negative: 1 out of 13
  1. Matt Costa's sophomore effort, Unfamiliar Faces, finds the singer/songwriter delving into similar territory to his 2006 debut, "Songs We Sing," crafting hummable, somewhat intricate AM pop-influenced tracks.
  2. With a plucky guitar, harmonica, piano, and sun-burnished vocals, Costa knows how to work gospel's euphoric uplift into secular music, though he follows the blueprints of his idol (a 'Hurdy Gurdy Man'-era Donovan) a tad too closely.
  3. 76
    'Emergency Call,' with its Jerry Rafferty-esque hook, marks the highpoint of the album. But the ditties are offset by introspective ballads like 'Never Looking Back,' with its mournful melody, and 'Bound,' a song in which Matt gets his dander up and renounces a woman who’s wronged him.
  4. Many of the ditties on Unfamiliar Faces bring us right back to the golden age of singer-songwriters.
  5. Mojo
    40
    It makes poetic sense but, like many autobiographical songwriters, he knows the stories so well he fails to tell them. [Feb 2008, p.112]
  6. Still, despite his naive imitations, Costa has a gift for catchy hooks, and once he figures out who he is musically, the results could be remarkable.
  7. Costa's sophomore album is every bit as anaemic as the Johnson connection suggests.
  8. Costa’s jazz-tinged neo-folk songs are boyishly engaging for as long as they last, but they drift away without leaving a trace, as he too often settles for merely maintaining a feathery, bittersweet modality, so that the McCartney-esque tunefulness of the title track, the Mungo Jerry-like lilt of 'Miss Magnolia' and the ever-so-slight edginess of 'Cigarette Eyes' stand out by default.
  9. Certainly there's more to Costa than a one-man acoustical jam, even if his pleasure zone isn't far from the AM Gold dial.
  10. There’s no question Costa has progressed since his first EP. But as he ventures on his musical journey through the past, he might want to look at the albums of the 1960s icons he so admires and think about if their "progress" improved their music or diluted it.
  11. With such a young, singular talent, it’s a shame to hear him aping other styles when he clearly is full of a wealth of unexplored talent.
  12. Q Magazine
    80
    His second album is braver and more expansive and, in the case of 'Cigarette Eyes,' surprisingly angry. He's getting near to brilliant. [Feb 2008, p.95]
  13. Uncut
    40
    This is scant compensation for his lack of fire, lyrical inspiration, or indeed anything that might distinguish him from his legion of peers. [Mar 2008, p.85]
User Score
6.0

Mixed or average reviews- based on 8 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 5
  2. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. MM.
    Mar 1, 2008
    5
    While I don't think it's quite as subpar as all the critics seem to feel, the album is missing something. Maybe it's While I don't think it's quite as subpar as all the critics seem to feel, the album is missing something. Maybe it's Costa's inability to come across as anything but a copy cat songwriter: he's doing nothing original here whatsoever. That's not to say the album is completely devoid of any redeeming qualities: there are some decent pop tunes here. However, I don't feel I'll be coming back to this very often during the remainder of the year. Full Review »
  2. KevinB.
    Feb 24, 2008
    8
    This is an album that grew on me. After the first time i listened to it I didn't really like it that much but after seeing him preform This is an album that grew on me. After the first time i listened to it I didn't really like it that much but after seeing him preform live i haven't been able to put it down. It's the type of album that gets better eveytime you listen to it. Full Review »
  3. AllenM.
    Feb 24, 2008
    6
    Just OK. It sounded a bit like Paul McCartney's newest. ("Memory Almost Full.")