Matchbook Romance

    Stories and Alibis


    Did the Daveys (Havok, AFI; VonBohlen, The Promise Ring) create a boy child in their image, and groom him to front a band? Just wondering, cause these are the first thoughts that come to mind when I listen to Andrew Jordan’s opening vocals, on Matchbook Romance’s first album Stories and Alibis.


    The Facts:

    Poughkeepsie, NY’s own Matchbook Romance exacted some notable DIY marketing tactics, which landed them both a spot on the Epitaph roster (Epitaph founder, Bad Religion guitarist, Brett Gurewitz downloaded one of their MP3s) and a name change (The Getaway was their previous incarnation). Joe Barresi (who has worked with Queens Of The Stone Age, Fu Manchu, L7, Melvins) produced Stories & Alibis. The band scored a spot on the ’03 Warped Tour, and also opened for the Ataris’ European tour. And, if Jordan’s lyrics are not just stories and a collective statement about longing (wow), they really, really want their relationships with their girlfriends to work out (but don’t expect they ever really will).

    The Context:

    I hate to pull the Dashboard Confessional card this early in the review, but what’s up with all the heartbroken sensitive/rocking guys? The Matchbook Romance boys maneuver well through their tracks (maybe too well); though clearly a formula is at work here. I won’t begin a paranoid pseudo-boy band rant (they do write their own songs, and don’t have creative facial hair); but it’ s very hard to distinguish yourself when the market is rife with mostly-white, mostly-suburban guitar rockersA Simple Plan, Don’t Look Down, Taking Back Sunday, Thursday, Thrice, and on and on.

    The Diagnosis:

    Admittedly, these guys can play: the tunes are tight, and the band comes off polished on Stories & Alibis. Similar to A.F.I.’s latest, Sing the Sorrow, Stories begins with a pensive “Introduction,” which rises into “Your Stories, My Alibis.” Aaron Stern’s heartbeat drum lines and Jordan and Judas Depaolo’s guitar work catch your attention and carry this track (most tracks).

    The guitars on “Shadows Like Statues” and “My Eyes Burn” offer promise, but the generic vocals prevent the songs from ever realizing distinction.

    Another nail in the Emo-coffin is pounded with “Tiger Lily.” I mean, in its own right, it’s a decent track, but here’s the rub: 1) it’s acoustic, 2) there are backing strings, and 3) Jordan’s lyrics fall flat: “We drive tonighttalking about our livesThe time flies by with the sound of your voice./It’s close to paradise”

    Close to Paradise? Or, close to a live-journal entry (the liner notes are actually a replica of smudgy hand-written pages, penned on lined, yellow paper)? You know, it totally sucks when we think about Her, too, and how we should be with Her and all; but enough is enough.

    Don’t expect something new from Matchbook Romance’s Stories & Alibis. Do expect another head on the ever-growing Emo-Hydra.