Matthew Sweet has never made a bad record, but 1997's Blue Sky On Mars was about as close as he's come. A 35-minute throwaway without more than a tiny handful of memorable songs, the album sounded like the work of a singer and songwriter content to function on auto-pilot after three excellent, generally well-liked (though 1993's Altered Beast was underrated), moderately successful records. Sweet's sixth album, In Reverse, finds him once again at his best: Its 14 tracks are uniformly strong, with muscular rockers ("Split Personality," "Write Your Own Song") competing for attention with smooth, lush, sugary fare ("If Time Permits," the knockout ballads "Trade Places" and "Worse To Live"). In Reverse's few flaws (the familiarity of "Faith In You," the predictability of "Millennium Blues") are all but snuffed out by its myriad rewards, culminating in a nearly 10-minute coda ("Thunderstorm") that melds several good songs into one great one. That willingness to exceed expectations neatly sums up Sweet's return to greatness. At the end of a decade in which Sweet has constantly threatened to burst into superstardom—his commercial near-misses, from "Someone To Pull The Trigger" to 100% Fun's masterpiece "We're The Same," could fill a greatest-hits volume—In Reverse finds him once again deserving of its rewards.