The sticker on the front of my copy of A Band In Hope, The Matches' new album, said "The Matches: A Band as Weird as You Are." Oh, gracious, but I do love the Matches. Shawn Harris has such a distinctive voice. It's powerful the way it seems constantly on the brink of collapse, and helps to cement the Matches as one of my favorite bands.
"AM Tilts" starts the new album, and it's a good return to the unique sound of the Matches. The vocals are spot-on, but the guitars feel somewhat reserved, making this a track that gets off the ground but doesn't really soar.
"Their City" feels like a better start to a Matches record; it's simply a great rock song. The guitars and drums are what I would describe as "unrelenting."
There are a couple quiet tracks, which is something we haven't really seen before on a Matches album: "Darkness Rising," an all piano song, and "Clouds Crash," an acoustic one. "Darkness Rising" isn't great; the melody really doesn't come across as well established. "Clouds Crash," on the other hand, is excellent. It's intense and moving.
A Band In Hope features some changes from previous Matches records, including more backing vocals than I'm used to from them, but the changes aren't at all unwelcome. It's a terrific album; and I'd be much obliged if you'd run out and buy it.
[mp3] The Matches - Their City