Matchbook Romance - Stories and Alibis (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Matchbook Romance

Stories and Alibis (2003)


There has certainly been a lot of talk about this band. Discovered from an innocuous posting on a website, and quickly signed to the biggest independent label in the world, not to mention a popular EP and a stint on this summer's Warped Tour. This young band has a great deal to be proud of.

Their debut release, released in April of this year was not exactly critically acclaimed, but it built them a strong audience; for me, it was far too derivative, and in spite of the bands obvious musical prowess, a wealth of melodramatic lyrics and an all too common sound left me unimpressed.

So, a few short months later, the band releases their first full length, and how does it fare?

Well, to be honest, it's a marked improvement over the West for Wishing. The band seems like it is closer to finding it's voice, and the songs are tighter, and the vocals more natural sounding than the forced delivery on the EP. It still conjures up the sounds of their contemporaries like the Deftones-lite of Finch, or even early Saves the Day.

But while their sound is clearly derivative of those bands, they manage to do it better than most. Take the first "real" track on the CD, "Your Stories, My Alibis" which opens with an extended instrumental and hits a decent pace, though it does seem like it could benefit from releasing some of the energy the band is holding down beneath the track. Of course, on the essentially acoustic "Tiger Lily" the band awakens it's lingering modern rock sensibilities with a track tailor made for radio play, probably somewhere near a Dashboard Confessional song.

The biggest flaw of the record in my mind, is probably also the potential strength of their next. Primarily, that the energy on the record seems unnaturally restrained; I'm not expecting them to turn into a hardcore band, but each track carries the promise of an explosion, but never delivers. It makes a generally catchy record quite a bit frustrating.

As a whole, it's a better record than their EP delivered, in fact, it's a more promising band than the EP suggested, but the lack of follow through on some of the more interesting ideas, as well as the fundamentally overplayed nature of the sound were disappointing. On the other hand, the excellent musicianship, incredible production and growth over the past year suggest that you keep an eye on this band.