AbsolutePunk.net
   Username
Password
 
Album Review
Hint: Follow a reviewer to be notified when they post reviews.
Matches, The - A Band in Hope Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9
Musicianship 9.25
Lyrics 9
Production 8.75
Creativity 9.5
Lasting Value 8.75
Reviewer Tilt 9.5
Final Verdict: 91%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.31
Musicianship 8.47
Lyrics 8.19
Production 8.39
Creativity 8.53
Lasting Value 8
Reviewer Tilt 8.31
Average: 83%
Inside AP.net

Matches, The - A Band in Hope

Reviewed by: The Personist (03/26/08)
The Matches - A Band in Hope
Record Label: Epitaph Records
Release Date: March 18, 2008


I remember my first experience with The Matches very well. I was on the way back from Chicago with my family in the summer of 2006. My brother had purchased E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals and was lobbying desperately for me to give it a listen. I finally capitulated, allowing him to play for me one song. That song--"Dog-Eared Page"--got me hooked. Everything was just right: the intensity, the vocals, the music. It was my pop punk dream come true. I couldn't get enough of this band. I was overjoyed when Decomposer arrived that September, and proceeded to listen incessantly to that album as well. I fell in love with Shawn Harris' unique vocals, his quirky lyrics, and The Matches' infectious energy that pervaded even slower songs like "The Barber's Unhappiness." Needless to say, I was beside myself when I heard about A Band in Hope. And now, having heard it, I remain beside myself.

First and foremost, Harris' vocals are at their best. "Between Halloweens" features some of the best singing I've heard from him to date, and he deserves mention for mastering his unique voice. Even those put off by the vocals on Decomposer will be able to better enjoy the singing here. Kudos to Harris in that respect.

As for the album itself, A Band in Hope starts off more energetically than Decomposer. "AM Tilts" is a rock song through and through; however, something about it just doesn't click with me. I enjoy it, but it's certainly one of the weaker songs on the album. It doesn't go anywhere. It also doesn’t help that "Their City" is track number two. This completely defies the blandness I see in the album's first song. "Their City" rocks, and it rocks very well. It drives with that same restless energy that pervades The Matches' previous albums, making it a winner in my book.

"Wake the Sun" is a catchy number, and though I thoroughly enjoy it, I am far more enamored with the fourth song on this album, "Darkness Rising." I can't call it a ballad, really, because it plays more like a musical number from a Broadway show. It also showcases some of the album's best vocals. The Matches are at their most sensitive here, and the vocal arrangements are incredible. Jon Devoto’s foray into lead vocals proves a successful one; his voice is not dramatically different from Harris’, but it still adds a certain something to the overall effect here. This song is probably one of the best this band has ever written, to be sure. It builds very nicely from the beauty of the piano to the bombastic chorus, which seamlessly slides offstage to allow Devoto to end alone with the piano. A highlight, to be sure.

"To Build a Mountain" is next and is surely a winner with a melodic line (underneath) that comes directly from "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen. The next song that really caught my ear was "Clouds Crash," which didn't overindulge in the strings and sported a section of "la-da-da" vocals reminiscent of the final track on E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals. After this comes "Between Halloweens," which has clever lyrics and again calls upon the power of Queen, this time in the form of a very "Bohemian Rhapsody"-like call-and-response-with-a-chorus vocal section. This does not, however, indicate Queen worship. The Matches do a very good job of integrating this type of "classic" element into their songs without letting it define them and their style. In essence, they do not revert to the Sam's Town kind of idolatry that leads to muddiness and a lack of direction. The Matches know where they're going with this kind of inclusion, making it all the more interesting for the listener.

E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals makes a thematic and stylistic appearance on this album with "Yankee in a Chip Shop." The speed, the gang vocals, and the goofiness of the song make it a fun and nostalgic trip down pop punk memory lane. The final song "Proctor Rd." is a strange and atmospheric way to end; however, for all its quirks, it provides excellent closure to an excellent album.

This album, simply put, is great. Anyone who likes Decomposer will like this album. However, just like its predecessor, A Band in Hope sometimes suffers from too much. "From 24C" is a stab at an electronic number, but it finds Harris drowning underneath synthesized beats that seem clunky and overdone. Luckily, this type of over-experimentation is not the album's undoing. It is a strong album from a strong band, and hearing A Band in Hope takes me right back to that car ride home from Chicago in summer when I first heard E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals. She may have killed The Locals, but The Matches live on. The Matches' hope was well-placed; they've created a winner.

Track Listing01. AM Tilts
02. Their City *
03. Wake the Sun
04. Darkness Rising *
05. To Build a Mountain
06. We Are One
07. Point Me Toward the Morning
08. From 24C
09. Clouds Crash *
10. Between Halloweens *
11. If I Were You *
12. Future Tense
13. Yankee in a Chip Shop
14. Proctor Rd.

* standout tracks

Recommended if You LikeThe Matches' other material, intricate fun, Say Anything, musicals

myspace.com/thematches
 
Displaying posts 1 - 13 of 13
06:35 AM on 04/03/08
#2
daaana
Registered User
Offline
User Info.
daaana's Avatar
hmmm i'll definitely be checking them out
08:29 AM on 04/03/08
#3
Doolb-Oidua
Registered User
Offline
User Info.
Doolb-Oidua's Avatar
I actually disagree with everyone saying that From 24C doesn't stand out on the album. It's got so much emotion in it.

But aside from that, really good review.
10:31 AM on 04/03/08
#4
The Personist
http://davidwpritchard.tumblr.co m
Offline
User Info.
The Personist's Avatar
I actually disagree with everyone saying that From 24C doesn't stand out on the album. It's got so much emotion in it.

But aside from that, really good review.

I agree it's got emotion. I think the production kinda killed it for me, though. Every time I listen to it, though, I like it more.
11:52 AM on 04/03/08
#5
Merkin
A Fine Evening For a Rogue
Offline
User Info.
Merkin's Avatar
i like AM tilts, it's an opener
06:36 PM on 04/03/08
#6
LongDistanceDrunk
Offline
User Info.
No Avatar Selected
Good review. Darkeness rising is my fav song.
11:08 PM on 04/06/08
#7
The Personist
http://davidwpritchard.tumblr.co m
Offline
User Info.
The Personist's Avatar
i like AM tilts, it's an opener

It IS an opener; however, I think it doesn't stand on its own as a truly strong track. It has grown on me, though as a song it doesn't go anywhere, really.
03:44 PM on 04/07/08
#8
isillness
Registered User
Offline
User Info.
No Avatar Selected
I disagree in that 24C is my favorite song on the album (followed by Between Halloweens). 24C is more of a departure for them than Darkness Rising and I feel like they pulled it off better, even though I still enjoy listening to Darkness.
03:15 PM on 04/11/08
#9
Curtis&BemisRok
Regular Member
Offline
User Info.
Curtis&BemisRok's Avatar
Awesome review. I think this album is pretty different for them. Am I the only one who finds To Build a Mountian really irresistable?
06:39 PM on 04/11/08
The Personist
http://davidwpritchard.tumblr.co m
Offline
User Info.
The Personist's Avatar
Awesome review. I think this album is pretty different for them. Am I the only one who finds To Build a Mountian really irresistable?

I adore that song. The lyrics are amazing.
04:21 PM on 04/12/08
AppleJack7285
Registered User
Offline
User Info.
No Avatar Selected
from 24C gives me chills, though, if you pay attention, it really isn't a creepy song in the slightest. comforting song it is. lolz

11:36 PM on 07/13/08
bummm
Slave 2 tha booty
Offline
User Info.
bummm's Avatar
I heart them.
08:58 AM on 07/31/08
MoChroi
Registered User
Offline
User Info.
MoChroi's Avatar
Not a fan of this one. I love there other 2 albums to death, but this one...it doesn't have the energy that the other albums have. They should have mixed up the songs from Decomposer and this album better. The album's too dull for me.
Options
More From This Author
Buy the Music

NEWS, MUSIC & MORE
Search News
Release Dates
Exclusives
Best New Music
Articles
CONNECT
Submit News
Forums
Contests
Mobile Version
AP.net Logos
HIDDEN TREASURES
AbsolutePunk Podcast
Free Music
Sports Forum
Technology Forum
Recommendations
INFORMATION
Advertising
Contact Us
Copyright Policy
Terms of Service
Privacy Policy
FOLLOW
Twitter | Facebook | RSS
PropertyOfZack
PunkNews.org
UnderTheGun
Chorus.fm