Sound: Once again, The Matches have released an album entirely unlike anything they have done in the past. Having broken up didn't stop them from releasing this collection of 10 demos and rare acoustic songs (due in part to rabid fans' incessant requests).
This album is much less energetic overall than even A Band in Hope (with a few exceptions- It's my Day, Wished Walk). It is filled with jumpy, bouncing guitars that don't hold much of a rhythm. Dylan does a good job replacing Justin without a hitch, the basslines are very similar, stylistically, to their earlier music. Due to the album's low-key nature, the drums don't have much opportunity to shine. Overall, there is a lot of creativity in the album, straying away from standard rock format of distortion and eighth notes, but not nearly as much excitement.
The songs on this CD were the first recorded and mixed after being released by Epitaph, and a listener can tell. Some songs sound almost empty at times. // 8
Lyrics: Lyrically, this album is the Matches' low point. They still have some creative ideas, but the imaginative wordplay and clever imagery of their last three albums is very obviously missing throughout this record. Some songs, like 50 Altered States, are very weak lyrically, an example being:
"50 altered states, slouched into the couch, staying up too late, I like to complain, I like to complain, that the television is boring"
This is obviously a far cry from songs like Scratched Out, You (Don't) Know Me, and To Build a Mountain. However, there are a few gems on this album, Wicked Walk, and Needs and Wants are both creative and entertaining to listen to.
Shawn Harris, as usual does a great job imbuing the words with a life of their own. Even though he sounds much less enthused than he has in the past, the melody and style is uniquely his, which is something to love. // 7
Overall Impression: Overall, this album is far less inspired than their past works. A fan of the band will love it as much as anything else thats been released in the past, but I would not recommend this to anyone who hasn't heard them before. The best songs are easily, It's my Day, Wicked Walk, Needs and Wants, and My Doe pt 1. None of the songs are outright bad, but the majority of this release is (thus far) not nearly as treasured to me as the rest of their discography. They are clearly not as inspired here, or enjoying the writing quite as much. In any case, it is a quirky, different sound that some people may like, and other may hate. I personally could take it or leave it. // 7