Hailing from Lincoln, Neb., singer-songwriter Matthew Sweet attended University of Georgia-Athens in the early '80s hoping to advance in the city's legendary underground music scene. Sweet joined the local band Oh-OK, and when the group broke up in 1984 formed the band Buzz of Delight with Oh-OK drummer David Pierce. A solo demo made its way to Columbia Records, and Sweet signed a deal with the label in 1985, relocating to New York. The following year he released his solo debut, Inside, a slick effort for which Sweet played all of the instruments and brought in numerous guest artists. But the album was a commercial failure and Sweet was dropped from Columbia.
Sweet managed to get a new record deal with A&M in 1988, and released his next album, Earth, the following year. Much like Inside, the album made no commercial impact and once again Sweet was let go. To earn money while preparing his next album, Sweet toured with Lloyd Cole's backing band throughout 1990; during this time he divorced his wife of six years. Just as things seemed to be at a low for the power-pop singer, Zoo Records, impressed by the demos for the new album, offered Sweet a new record contract. Sure enough, 1991's Girlfriend became a critical and commercial success, eventually going gold and establishing Sweet as an underground sensation.
After relocating to Los Angeles, Sweet recorded his next album, 1993's Altered Beast. Though still somewhat a cult/college artist, Sweet expanded his following with the MTV hit "Time Capsule." While preparing his next album, Sweet released a 1994 EP of B-sides and out-takes called Son of Altered Beast. When 100% Fun finally came out in 1995 it was Sweet's most successful album to date, going gold on the success of the single "Sick of Myself." The 1997 follow-up Blue Sky on Mars, earned mixed reviews and was not as commercially successful, despite production work from Brendan O'Brien (Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots).