Review Summary: Emery's frontmen go simpler and softer, and the end product isn't half bad.Matt & Toby
isn't a very interesting album. I don't think any of us expected it to be, either, considering the direction in which the latest Emery album headed. Let me qualify myself here, though: I was one of the few that found We Do What We Want
to be very solid. It certainly isn't an album one listens to for consistency's sake, but overall the album contains some of Emery's most gripping tracks. However, its last few songs were pretty concerning. We all knew Emery loves Jesus, but having his name as the focal point of the album's end was too blatant to work. Despite the overtly religious theme at the end of the album, though, even the music was unpleasant. “I Never Got to See the West Coast” probably looked promising on paper, but somewhere in the transcribing process the song morphed into a yawn-inducing mess.
Now, this didn't necessarily spell disaster for Matt & Toby's decision to go acoustic; the duo has it in them to write catchy tunes that also happen to be stripped down. We can clearly see on the album that the formula sometimes works, like in the album’s first single “Life of the Party.” What a good way to introduce us to what this whole thing should have felt like, right? The song isn't the most innovative, and you've probably heard that chord structure
more times than you care for, but it's done incredibly well here. Maybe it can be attributed to the nonchalant way that Matt & Toby go about it, as one can see in the track's video. They're having fun, and they want you to join them in the charades.
If only the whole album played this way, though. While Matt & Toby
has its occasional moments of splendor, the majority of the album passes by unnoticed, like a semi-decent actor in the streets of Hollywood. It's hard to recall any of the tracks here, to be honest – many of them feel like feeble rehashes of Emery's prior work. The duo attempts to make it look like this isn't the case through instrumental variation: bouncy piano here, strings there. But one doesn't need a microscope to see that there's the same DNA at each song's core, despite what petty changes may occur.
Believe it or not, I consider this album to be a success. Despite my incredibly high standards for these two, I concede that their debut's enjoyable. No, I won't ever listen to it again, but at least the two fleshed out this desire for acoustic tracks before Emery's next album comes out. This release is what's truly on everybody's mind, but Matt & Toby
will only whet some fans' appetites before the next installment of Emery is released.