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Split album should stay on the shelves

Ryan Rogers | Wednesday, February 2, 2005

The best way to describe the Matchbook Romance/Motion City Soundtrack Split is disappointing.First of all the album contains only four songs with a total running time of 16 minutes. Second of all, the album is all acoustic. This style of music is not only a change but also a vast disappointment to fans of the earlier work of either band.Matchbook Romance performs the first two songs on the album, while Motion City Soundtrack performs the second two. The Matchbook Romance half of the album is flawed heavily. It is a fairly generic modern punk/emo/hardcore band. However, in the past, it has stood out not for style distinction but for merely working well within a well-established, well-explored genre. The opening track “In Transit (for You)” is painful. In fact it leaves the listener dreading what is to follow. The song features slow strumming and crooning from a band that normally uses distorted guitars, strained vocals and screams. On top of that, the lyrical content is somewhat uninspired: “Baby if you want me to / I’d do anything for you.” The second track is redeeming, but Matchbook Romance fans will recognize it as an acoustic version of “Playing for Keeps” off of its latest LP, “Stories & Alibis.” While this is a quality song, the original version is much better. The song was originally intended to be screamed with gnashing guitars and crashing cymbals and it shows. Instead the listener gets a series of faux build-ups and a feeling that something is missing. The Motion City Soundtrack portion of this disc is much better as both songs are original and Motion City Soundtrack, while not normally an acoustic band, makes a better adjustment to recording acoustic songs. Even so, the fact that their songs are acoustic is yet again a disappointment. Motion City Soundtrack is a power pop band. Its strength is the use of synth and the moog, both of which are woefully missing from this album.Its first track, “When ‘You’re’ Around” is the best track on the album. It is catchy and will have fans singing along. It starts with a stiffly strummed guitar and gentle picking going on in the background. Vocally, Motion City Soundtrack has the range and diversity that makes it fun to listen to. “When ‘You’re’ Around” is no exception.The final track is “Sunday Warning.” It slowly and gently weaves with a full drum beat. This song is satisfying if the listener is in the mood, but the problem is a fan of Motion City Soundtrack would not expect this. Both of the band’s tracks on this album are good, but a full, non-acoustic version would be so much better.Standing alone this album leaves much to be desired, and if you are a fan of either band it leaves even more to be desired. The album fails both musically and as a concept. The only thing tying the two bands together is a common label, Epitaph Records, and the album seems wholly unnecessary. Ultimately it will leave fans asking, “why?”