That Matchbook Romance only ever did two albums is really a shame. The rock band showing a lot of potential and versatility through both releases.
One of these albums was Voices.
Released in 2006, this was a darker, much less punk-sounding album and yet this felt like a worthy direction in which to take things for the band.
The main single to be released from the album was “Monsters”, which opens with a hypnotic little melody and a clapping rhythm before developing into a really fun song with a devilishly catchy chorus. It’s a brilliant tune and it’s actually surprising that it doesn’t open the album. That said, the first song of the album is more than worthy to start things off. “You Can Run, But We’ll Find You” is angsty but genuinely good with its beautifully dark, moody, memorable melody and its welcome crescendo, the song becoming much heavier near the end.
It’s my personal favourite.
Radio only single “Surrender” follows and starts off sounding a bit like a Muse song. Overall, it builds on the first song really well by being yet another dark, catchy and entertaining track with another nice melody to it. A faster tune follows, the awesomely titled “My Mannequin Can Dance”, and things get a tad more emo but, luckily, it’s a solid, fun song with a metal-style rhythm.
“Goody, Like Two Shoes” is even heavier and angstier but its melody doesn’t quite stand out as the others preceding it. The song actually has a weird jazzy feel to it, at times. “Say It Like You Mean It” follows “Monsters” and it’s a slower track which is almost a-capella save for a backing guitar. At the start, anyway. Then, a great build-up leads it to a cool, simple chorus and a grungier vibe altogether.
A more upbeat track is next, “Portrait”, and it’s one of the most memorable songs on the album. It’s upbeat but still has enough of an edge to it that it doesn’t become cheesy at all, it actually develops really well. As does its melodic follow-up “Singing Bridges (We All Fall)”, which is a slow burn but is haunted by creeping guitars throughout, as they get heavier and heavier as the song goes on. We’re back to a faster-paced, angstier, punkier effort after that, unexpectedly. “Fiction” is a welcome burst of energy before the album draws to a close.
The tenth song on Voices is “What A Sight”, another slow-burner which opens promisingly but, alas, the chorus ends up being a bit anti-climactic and the song ends up being much whinier than it probably should have been. “I Wish You Were Here” follows and it’s a soft, rather sad little song with a nice melody to it: it’s heartfelt and pretty. A more poetic way to end the album, not a bad thing at all.
There is a hidden bonus track on the album which starts off like 10 minutes after the end of “I Wish You Were Here” and it’s another whinier effort. A raw, acoustic tune which sounds like a demo and, although it’s not terrible, it’s something of a non-event.
That the album made it to Number 2 in the Billboard Top Independent Albums charts back in 2006 isn’t surprising: Voices is a surprisingly strong second album full of solid, well-written, hard-to-forget songs.
Despite a couple of average tracks near the end, Voices is, all in all, terrific stuff and definitely worth a listen. Plus it comes with a booklet full of hidden messages for you to decode, what more do you want?
There’s still hope that the band might work on something new soon so I think I’ll give the album 4 Happy Goths out of 5 for support.
Also, the album deserves it.