The Matches - A Band in Hope (Cover Artwork)

The Matches

A Band in Hope (2008)


Here is a band that went from being an above-average pop-punk band with their debut album to finding their footing with their followup. Now, with their third release, A Band in Hope, I truly believe the Matches have found their niche. This album is epic. There is so much growth in both their musicianship and lyrics that it's hard to believe that this is the same band that released their last two albums. I would go so far as to say that this album secures them as a modern-day Queen. The immense amount of influence of them is present in almost every song. It's almost as if the band listened to "A Night at the Opera" and said, "We can do that." Where most bands have fallen on their faces attempting to experiment to such a degree, the Matches have blown them out of the water.

One of the greatest strengths of the album is the vocals. As weird as this may sound, while most bands use singing simply as a means to convey words, the Matches do so much more. The harmonies are sublime. Where they were few and far between on previous albums, they are prevalent throughout. Few musicians use vocals in such a way as in this album. Queen comes to mind first and foremost. "Darkness Rising" is a hauntingly beautiful piece that highlights the band's singing ability.

The songwriting is another huge step forward. So many bands that call themselves pop-punk these days are simply content to follow the same formula and write verse/chorus songs every album. Here, the Matches said no. They stepped up their instrumentation and included many songs with complex guitar riffs and infectious rhythms. "Their City" is a powerhouse rock song that follows "AM Tilts" perfectly. The bass is so much more pronounced here than it ever was and it serves to drive the songs so well. "Between Halloweens" is a perfect example of this.

A Band in Hope also shows a huge step forward for the Matches' lyrics. Their brand of humor is still found in some of the songs, but the maturity can be seen as well. Passion shines through in almost every word. So many of their previous songs were filled with repeat lyrics and it sometimes felt tacked on. While that technique is still used on this album, it feels appropriate. It feels like there is a reason to pay attention to what is being said and that it serves something more than just filling up a song.

It is really hard to put to words how amazing I found this album to be. So many bands go through album after album trying to find their sound and it never happens. Clearly, the Matches looked around at a stagnating pool of bands and wanted to stand out above them. So much of their older material sounds like they were collaborating with Say Anything and this album definitely creates an original sound of a band not content with mediocrity. I can not believe that Epitaph is still holding on to them. They have the potential to explode to the next big sensation and I'm surprised they aren't everywhere already. This album had definitely earned a spot in my best of 2008. I recommend this to anyone who is bored with the common band.