One of the great lost albums of the early '00s pop era, pairing the hottest production trio with an aspiring singer, has emerged from the dark abyss where it's been hidden for years.
The self-titled debut from the Matrix (Avril Lavigne, Korn, Britney Spears), featuring a pre-girl-kissing [artist id="1962774"]Katy Perry[/artist], dropped on iTunes on Tuesday (January 27).
Coincidentally, the album comes out just as Perry is in the midst of a career-making debut solo tour in support of her smash One of the Boys album.
"To be honest, we had a much earlier release date planned," Matrix member Lauren Christy told MTV News.
Back in March 2003, Matrix member Scott Spock explained that the group — which also includes Christy's husband Graham Edwards — had been squirreling away songs for themselves for years and that the then-undiscovered singers they'd found would soon be "very well-known."
But release dates came and went, and the album was quietly shelved in late 2004, because they didn't want the strains of publicity to distract from their production duties. The trio later parted ways with their manager, but when they re-upped with him last year, they brought up the album again "as a kind of celebration," Christy said. "We said, 'Let's release the Matrix album, because it's a great album.' "
Since the band had retrieved the rights to the disc after Columbia Records didn't release it, the plan was to put the effort out on their own label, Let's Hear It Records, last year.
"We had the dates set up with iTunes ... and then 'I Kissed a Girl' exploded," Christy said. "I spoke to Katy about it, and she wanted to wait until the fourth single off her album was released."
Reading from a text exchange they had last year, Christy said Perry told her: "I don't think right now is particularly the best time for me to have it released. But I would revisit the idea when the image and direction I want for my music has become more firmly established."
A spokesperson for Perry did not return an e-mail seeking comment on the album's release.
The Matrix album, which also features little-known British act Adam Longlands, was recorded when Perry was 20. Among the songs on the disc is the undeniably catchy "Damn," an electro-funk jam that's part dance pop and part new wave, with bold horns, wah-wah guitar and a roller-disco vibe. On the tune, which sounds like it could be on the "Saturday Night Fever 2005" soundtrack, Perry already sounds like a star in the making when singing the hook, "Damn I can't believe it/ Damn you got me feeling good."
In the video for "Broken," the never-released single from the album, Perry channels Bettie Page as she shares the mic with Longlands, taking most of the shine on the by-the-numbers crunchy pop tune, which sounds like an Avril Lavigne castoff. The song has the same soaring chorus and aching verse structure as many of the Matrix's best-known hits.
Among the other Perry-fronted songs on the album are the mechanical new-wave tune "Take a Walk," the throbbing, sexy ballad "You Miss Me," the string-laden dramatic weeper "Just a Song" and the chick-flick-worthy midtempo tune about self-involved pop stars, "Would You Care."
"We don't want to be pop stars, and we're not releasing it on a major label," Christy reiterated. "And it's not called 'Katy Perry and the Matrix.' These are just great songs, and I'm very proud of it."