Pop-punk, a genre known for simplicity and songs that only offer hooks and catchiness to attract the listener. Well, I can finally say that there is a pop-punk band that doesn’t need these things to gain a crowd. That band is obviously Matchbook Romance. Sure their songs are full of hooks and are catchy as hell, but their latest album, Stories and Alibis
, offers so much more. Intelligently written song structures and lyrics that individualize each and every song.
First off, the vocals from Andrew Jordan are very good and would fit any pop-punk band well. He only attempts any screaming twice, but it is mixed in the background incredibly low, which is refreshing because evidently it has become a trend for many pop-punk bands to think they have to include screaming in most of their songs to be “fresh", which is ridiculous. Lyrically, well, what do you expect, it’s pop-punk. Relationships are the central part of most songs, but the redeeming thing is that even though they are about the same subject, they don’t really ever say the same thing.
The guitar that is played by Ryan DePaolo is rather good considering the genre it is under. The leads that are played throughout Stories and Alibis
are interesting and the riffs played are catchy, but actually don’t get repetitive ever surprisingly. She’ll Never Understand
is a good example of that. The bass from Ryan Kienle is rather enjoyable throughout the album as evident in the My Eyes Burn
single. Full of wonderful beats and short little lines throughout the album that so many pop-punk bands lack when they usually have the bass either mixed really low or just following a guitar part. The bass is used rather well in many songs, either to build up to a chorus or to introduce a song, it all works well with the bass. Same with the drums, they are used intelligently as well and have many fills throughout the album that are entertaining. Sometimes a really cool and slow double bass is used on some songs, including the album version of My Eyes Burn
The title track Stories & Alibis
, clocking in at 4:45, is one of the most powerful songs that I have ever heard. Lyrically it is very emotional with a powerful chorus. “Are you there? Give me something worth living for. Tell me a reason worth fighting for. Give me anything, anything to keep me breathing."
. It is without a doubt, one of the most powerful choruses that I have ever heard. Musically it has a heavy set tone with fantastic guitar, bass, and drums that just continue to stand out throughout the whole song. This is without a doubt the premier of the album and the best pop-punk song ever written. I’m always glad to say in a review that a single for a band is a perfect representation of an album and happily, this is indeed one of those times. My Eyes Burn
was this albums only single, but was quite popular for a while, and with good reason. It is one of the catchiest songs on the album and one of the most recognizable songs on the whole album, single or not. Playing for Keeps
is about as generic you will get on this album. It seems more like screamo music from bands like Senses Fail. It is catchy, but not good catchy. Andrew’s singing on the verses will make the song more bearable, but overall it is just generic and the worst song on the album. A couple of other songs are like this such as Shadows Like Statues
One of the few complaints that I have to make about this album is that I wish more of the songs weren’t about relationships, but hey, this is pop-punk after all. The only other things that are slightly bad is that some songs are a little boring, which causes the album to become a little repetitive. Besides, I should just take what I can get. Variety is shown on the album with the inclusion of an acoustic song called Tiger Lily
, which is a fantastic acoustic song and something I wasn’t expecting on this album. With such standouts as Stories & Alibis
, My Eyes Burn
, and then Promise
this album just screams to the top of the mountains that Matchbook Romance are the kings of pop-punk. Fans of Motion City Soundtrack will gobble this album up, because it is just like them except catchier, less repetitive, and less zany. In the world of pop-punk this is a classic, but compared to other genres such as metal and (classic) rock, this is a 3. So as a combined score of both I think that this deserves an excellent (4 out of 5) rating.