Having come from Oakland, you would think that this unsigned quartet would either have its pop-punk roots firmly planted in either the late ‘80s/early ‘90s Lookout! explosion or the cluster of bands Drive-Thru picked up later in the decade in one fell swoop. Instead, The Matches deviate from both, choosing the tried-and-true formula of playing relatively harmless pop-punk that changes up its tempo every so often, incorporating some “oo-woo-oos,” “aahs,” and “na-na-nas.”
It’s hard to really like this album unless you’re ready to drop pretensions of H-bomb proportions. An obvious immaturity stands behind its lyrics like Charlie Brown standing behind the tree in hide-and-seek. The vocal harmonies are occasionally layered for just that right approach, and the chord progressions are rehashed as much as this sentence’s idea.
Much like the Life in General-era MxPx, this band tries for clever lyrics to make up for its lack of post-adolescence issues. The song “Audio Blood” has the simple premise of going to shows, but expresses it with lyrics such as “we meet underground / where the air is thick like mud, / and the bands makes noise / that we call audio blood.” Again in “Say 18;” we’re subjected to lyrics like “she’s got a lot of issues / like a good magazine.” The only real attempt at a socialistic attitude is in “Sick Little Suicide,” with a combination of relative tobacco industry criticism and a disdain for our desire to replicate magazine covers.
The most common chord progression of all is heard in “Destination: Nowhere Near” (see: the Suicide Machines’ “Stay,” among others). Luckily, the lack of originality is forced to clash with the surprise harmonica that the bridge brings us; the timing, position, and use of the instrument similar to Green Day’s “Walking Alone.”
The most interesting song of all is the closing, untitled acoustic track. Instead of slowly strumming chords and crying their bleeding hearts out, the members take turns spitting out lines that are sometimes interrelated until they go off on another tangent, almost as if the Blood Brothers had a good talk with Against Me! about how to play pop-punk. It’s nice to see them avoid what would otherwise be a prototypical sob-fest.
Always catchy but never quite enthralling, The Matches show occasional flashes of brilliance but never quite come off as something that can completely dodge the word “derivative.” The band shouldn’t have a whole lot of trouble finding a label. I'm just worried that they'll have some trouble finding a genre that hasn't been used more than an alleyway crack whore in downtown Oakland.
"Chain Me Free"
[taken from knifeparty]