Matchbook Romance - Voices (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Matchbook Romance

Voices (2006)


Matchbook Romance began their journey hailed as something much greater than they were. They were a fairly stereotypical, whiny third wave emo band that somehow managed to land a humungous deal with Epitaph Records. On Voices, they attempt to qualify their signing by writing a more "mature" record, drawing heavy from the likes of Radiohead and Muse, but most notably Gatsbys American Dream. What results is a mediocre effort from a band who is certainly reaching but ultimately fails due to nothing more than short arms.

Things start off promisingly enough. Matchbook Romance show their ambitions coming to fruition in early album cuts like the opener "You Can Run, But We'll Find You" and "My Mannequin Can Dance." Andrew Jordan's vocal approach is most sultry here, and it works in spades in placing a dark atmosphere and hooky environment; the former is slow-paced and methodical, with the latter executing stellar mini-crescendos leering around the chorus. However, even in these songs the band is revealing just how much Gatsbys American Dream they've been listening to since the release of Stories and Alibis, and thus never really find their own identity. The seven-minute fourth track (!), "Goody, Like Two Shoes" gives in to the notion with slightly sloppy attempts at time changes involving abrupt, drilled drum fills, while its latter part's chants are created only by Jordan's layered voice -- not an actual crowd of people, which likely would've conveyed any points Matchbook tries making here. Even its follower, the first single "Monsters," crawls in with some stomps and handclaps, leading to a relatively displaced, jangly chorus, and wank-filled riffs filling the bridge.

Beyond "Monsters," the record becomes directionless, pointlessly dreary, monotonous, and too slow to work song after song. All but the fast-paced (considering) "Fiction" follow the same, seemingly molded vibe, and all but that same one pass the 4-minute mark. Matchbook Romance are not a band designed to write a constant "attack" of ballads, and resultingly, Voices' second half is inherently boring. Jordan just eventually sounds nauseated as he rehashes his vocally sinister approach note in and note out; it gets to be old hat at some point. A flat secret song involves Jordan doing his best Thom Yorke over some lush acoustics.

Voices is a most ambitious record for Matchbook Romance, but it feels like the band is missing the talent to accompany it. Some more development is in store I'm sure, but it's still a way's away in eliciting the type of "that was awesome" reactions from listeners instead of merely "that was neat."

You Can Run, But We'll Find You