I actually discovered Matchbook Romance through a friend’s Myspace. Glad I could get that out of the way (this feels like an AA meeting). Anyway, I was over the house of a friend of mine, waiting for him to get his act together so we could depart for a BoySetsFire
concert. I was somewhat anxious to get a move on, so I began pacing behind my pal while he fiddled away on his ‘Space. All of the sudden, I hear the music video that’s playing on his page. I was instantly drawn to the catchy lyrics and hooky riffs that were pouring out of his computer’s speakers, so I decided I would ask him who the band was. He told me that it was Matchbook Romance, and that the song was “Hollywood and Vine." I eventually pulled him away from the computer, and we arrived at the concert (unfashionably early, no less).
The next day, I decided to take a walk up on my town’s local boardwalk. I stopped at a store known as Cookie’s Fun Shop to see if they had received a new shipment of CDs yet. As I looked through the rack, I was a little disappointed with the new arrivals, as nothing seemed to grab my interest. I worked my way down to the “W" section, and while flipping through some Weezer
albums, I noticed the word “matchbook" out of the corner of my eye. Needless to say, I nuts trying to locate the exact spot where my eyes had picked up that word from. A few minutes later, and I was walking out of the store with my latest purchase: Matchbook Romance- West For Wishing
Well, now that you have a (forced) history of some minor events in my life from about two years ago, let’s get to the point of this review. West For Wishing
is pop-punk album. It’s musically simple, and annoyingly catchy. Smooth vocals, with just a hint of emphatic background screaming, overlay fast, powerful, hooky melodies that ensnare the listener faster than the darkest of black holes. While the album isn’t perfect, it showcases Matchbook Romance’s excellent, emotion-laden songwriting talent, and is (what I consider to be) the perfect introduction to their music.
West For Wishing
opens with the concise, yet sonically appealing “14 Balloons." Powerful instrumentation and vocals mesh well, in a song that’s only real flaw is it’s longevity (1:07 total). “The Greatest Fall (Of All Time)" is a much better example of Matchbook Romance’s emotive brand of pop-punk. Since it is longer than “14 Balloons" it allows for better accessibility, and a more immersive listening experience. The great lyrics flow with angst and are complimented by the furious-sounding music. Ah, “Hollywood and Vine." As you already know, this is the song that originally attracted me to Matchbook Romance. Slower to the start, and featuring a better sense of melody than it’s predecessors, “Hollywood" is a perfect change of pace for this EP. The great musicianship and excellent lyrics help to make this the strongest song on the album.
“Farewell to Friends" picks things up again. It’s sense of raw energy and attitude makes it a stand-out track from this EP. The music seems to convey a point of true desperation while marinating it’s overall power. The fact that “Farewell" features the catchiest lyrics on the album also help it to succeed. West For Wishing
concludes with “Save Yourself." By far the heaviest track on the EP, it still manages to maintain Matchbook Romance’s powerful hooks and trademark attitude. The band made a brilliant choice in ending this EP on this note.
In the great history of fantastic punk EPs, West For Wishing
is hardly anything remarkable. Relatively similar song structure, repetitive music, and an occasionally irksome mix of lead vocals and background screaming detract from the overall experience a little. However, West For Wishing
is still a solid effort, from a solid band. Give it a listen some time, just don’t break your neck looking through the entire alphabet of your local store’s CD rack for it.