Sound — 9
Upon hearing Matt Mays & El Torpedo's first single, "Tall Trees", off of their new album Terminal Romance for the first time, I knew I had to hear more from this band. Being an East Coast Canadian band, they didn't have much in the way of air-play on local radio stations here on the west coast of Canada, which turns out to be a real shame once I heard the brilliance in the simplicity of their songwriting and music. Beautiful melodies and catchy hooks such as "Shining Eyes" invite you to sing along from the first note. The epic title-track "Terminal Romance" sounds like something out of the Springsteen catalogue for it's collaboration of piano, storytelling, perfectly distorted guitar and the hook lines "Heartbreaks are incurable/And I'm up all night/Stone-faced in New York city/Trying to set things right". "Rock Ranger Record" is an up-tempo number that just cracks the two-minute mark, cruises from the get-go and is reminiscent of what I can only describe as Garage Rock, however, a little more polished. The final track "Long Since Gone" showcases another side of the band (that being Country) with its' pedal steel guitar and sulking lyrical tones and exemplifies the diversity this band maintains throughout their sophomore album. One of the few negatives on this album is that I would have liked to hear a few more guitar solo's as the lead guitarist is quite talented; however, the solo on "Shining Eyes" has some nice flair and although not overly impressive in technical skill, it suit's the song to a tee!
Lyrics — 8
Matt Mays & El Torpedo have been oft compared to Tom Petty, and I wouldn't disagree with that comparison, especially on the track "Stand and Deliver". Perhaps not so much the verse lines, but the chorus sounds like something Mays heard Petty sing on a bootleg and decided to rip it off. Of course I'm not discrediting Mays' abilities, but the lines "Stand and deliver, surrender your heart/Or get out of the way/Sing with me baby" and the fashion in which they are sung can't be anything but at the very least inspired by Petty. Lyrically, the overall theme to the album reflects love and regrets over love lost. As previously mentioned, "Terminal Romance" is the title track and that theme carries over through most of the songs, not all, mind you. The final track on the album "Long Since Gone" is another example, if not the best, of Mays' I-screwed-it-up-and-now-I'm-trying-to-get-her-back lyrical theme. The chorus lines "Long gone/Lost in flight/Said I'd never leave ya/I think you knew that I might/Tonight I miss my baby/And the midnight song we sing/But I can't go back now/And the sunset shines on the summer rains" paint a picture that is only accentuated by hearing the simple yet effective chord progression and beautiful pedal steel guitar solo that carries this country-flavoured track through to the fade out.
Overall Impression — 9
As Matt Mays joined up with El Torpedo already an album ago, "Terminal Romance" is their second album as a group effort, and a damn good one at that. The album has great flow from start to finish and has diversity, which I find to be lacking in a lot of new music these days. I would have to say that for their talents, especially catchy songwriting abilities, this band is highly underrated and possibly under-appreciated. It's a sick world when bland bands such as Nickelback are loved and raved about, and Matt Mays & El Torpedo are unjustly lost in the mix. This review is coming from someone who enjoys artists and bands such as Tom Petty, Neil Young, Blue Rodeo, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, just to name a few. So, if you have any of these artists in your catalogue, I would highly recommend this album, as well as their previous, self-titled album. Seeing as how I enjoy this entire album thoroughly, it is hard to choose a few tracks that truly stand out, but if I had to pick a few, they would be: "Building A Boat", "Tall Trees", "Terminal Romance", "Shining Eyes", and "Long Since Gone". With that in mind, a few more tracks would have been nice as 11 tracks doesn't seem to be quite enough and leaves me wanting more and not wanting to wait for it. That being said, not one track on this album is out of place or filler, which means an applaud to the production of the record. There's no question I'd buy this album again had it gotten stolen, and I'd buy it for a friend too, because everyone deserves a chance to hear this album.