Review Summary: Decomposer is the sound of The Matches maturing their sound, but not so much that they lose the fun attitude present in their music.
While it doesn't always guarantee an excellent result, one can generally tell the potential of a band by how many well-known names are pining to attach their names to a release. Production credits from people like Tim Armstrong (Rancid), Mark Hoppus (Blink-182), and Brett Gurewitz (Bad Religion) gave Decomposer
a pre-packaged seal of approval and high expectations. Luckily, The Matches deliver with some of the most diverse and entertaining pop punk that has come out the past decade. Armed with larger-than-life pop punk choruses and electronic leanings, the band haphazardly slap together these elements while still somehow retaining a cohesive sound. In addition to the eclectic influences present on Decomposer
, there is also a maturation of The Matches both in songwriting and lyricism that present a starkly different band from the one witnessed on older songs like "Jack Slap Cheer" and "Chain Me Free".
It's fairly obvious from the beginning of Decomposer
that this is a versatile band; "Salty Eyes" boasts an acoustic guitar and a pretty orchestral arrangement that showcases vocalist Shawn Harris' passionate wails, as he swings from a deep intonation to a beautiful falsetto. As far the instruments are concerned, there is a strong bass presence throughout and none of the members outshine the other, creating a more cohesive sound than the guitar-centric E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals
. The energy is let loose on "Drive", complete with glitchy electronics and an arresting chorus, and really shows the interesting dichotomy that is present through the album. The Matches are able to convey a sense of experimentation throughout the entirety of Decomposer
while still employing stadium-sized choruses and a good amount of guitar distortion. It essentially allows for the whole affair to have a familiar appeal to pop-punk fans while still grabbing in more interest from people who wouldn't normally touch the genre with a ten-foot pole. It's hard to deny the instantly memorable line of "May your organs fail/Before your dreams fail you" delivered with such conviction and positively dripping with sarcasm at the same time, and this is how The Matches are able to create such fun tracks that always attach a brooding, self-deprecating undertone.
With all of the strides that The Matches take in creating a more complete album this time around, they are still some songs that fall flat on Decomposer
. "You (Don't Know)" employs a chorus that is both irritating and catchy, which is one of the worst combinations in music. The album is also a bit front-loaded, with some of the mid-tempo numbers that come later in the track listing sounding flat and uninteresting. Harris' vocals will undoubtedly be unappealing to some turned off by his theatrical delivery, but this is a band that has morphed from just another pop-punk band to a band that tastefully pays homage to both its past and the influences that inspired them to play music in the first place. Decomposer
is the sound of The Matches maturing their sound, but not so much that they lose the fun attitude present in their music.