These ‘voices’ don’t match the romance

Jason Hall

Matchbook Romance


Released on Epitaph Records

Stater rating (out of five): **

Matchbook Romance is trying to play with your heart.

Since the band’s introduction in 2003, members have had trouble deciding who they are musically – raw, talented musicians, or just another face in the all-too-crowded pop-punk scene. Their new album, Voices, is more of a Jekyll-and-Hyde adventure than a serious musical effort.

The album starts off strong: The first two tracks are “You Can Run, But We’ll Find You” and “Surrender,” which are really outstanding songs that give the listener hope this just might stand out among the bleak landscape of pop-punk radio hits. If only that were the case.

Then there’s the song “Monsters,” which sounds like Fall Out Boy trying to sneak out an album under a new name. Songs such as “Say It Like You Mean It” and “Singing Bridges (We All Fall)” are contrived pseudo-emotional power ballads that make listeners wonder how that term escaped the ’80s.

But it’s nothing new for Matchbook Romance. Their last album, Stories and Alibis had a similar up-and-down dichotomy to it – consisting of both incredible and terrible songs.

Matchbook Romance isn’t a bad band. It shows just enough talent in those two or three great tracks to make listeners wish the rest of the album wasn’t so bland. The band has an opportunity to become something better than the cookie-cutter pop-punk acts – but they can’t sustain it for more than a handful of tracks. The album just ends up leading you on.

Contact ALL correspondent Jason Hall at [email protected].