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Voices’ an emotional compilation of anxious songs

Chris McGrady | Thursday, February 16, 2006

Bring out the Kleenex and hide all the sharp objects before listening to this beauty of a CD. Matchbook Romance, the emo-group hailing from Poughkeepsie, New York recently released “Voices,” its latest effort under the Epitaph label. If painting on copious amounts of black eyeliner and spiking your black hair up isn’t quite enough to express the sadness you are now feeling, this album is for you.

Matchbook Romance, known in a previous life as the band Getaway, is classified most often as “emo,” which is short for “emotional.” These melodic rockers are unique not only for their sound, but also for the way the band got started.

The group first formed when bassist Ryan Kienle, vocalist/guitarist Andrew Johnson and drummer Aaron Stern’s band Fizzlewink added Ryan DePaolo as another guitarist and became the band Getaway. Rather than take the tried and true method of trying to start as a small-time band touring between various cities and spending hours on the highway, the group decided to jump on the information super-highway and put many of its tracks on the website MP3.com.

The group’s music began to spread, particularly through the East coast of the United States and eventually found it’s way to the ears of Brad Gurewitz of Epitaph Records. Getaway was signed to the label and after some legal issues, changed its name to Matchbook Romance.

The group’s newest effort “Voices” is difficult to navigate. The CD offers to the listener a variety of musical options – melodic harmonies, shredding metal sounds, piano serenades and catchy riffs. The music’s biggest problem actually lies in its diversity, something that is fairly unusual. Most albums can be bolstered by a degree of musical variety throughout the tracks. However, in “Voices,” it makes the listener feel like he or she is jumping around genres and does not let them settle into any kind of mood. The best CDs are not only about the quality of the individual tracks but also how they are presented to the listener and how they make them feel. This CD leaves the listener feeling anxious and, frankly, a little sad. Then again, maybe that was the group’s goal.

Some of the tracks that stand out as strong points on the CD are numbers five and 10. “Monsters” (track five) is the catchiest song of the album and will have even the most morose of emo-kids bouncing up and down like a giddy-school girl. Track 10, “What A Sight,” brings the album together by slowing it down a notch. Well-written and full of emotion (surprise, surprise), this song definitely warrants a listen.

The CD all together does justice to Matchbook Romance’s cause as a legitimate band. However, the group’s biggest strength (the pure emotion of the music) is also its biggest fault. This Achilles heel can make the listener feel like they are listening to a screaming drama-queen at times.

Overall the album is a good effort if a listener likes this type of music. Although not nearly as strong as the group’s previous works, Matchbook Romance continues to make a case as being an essential part of any emo collection.