Matchbook Romance / Motion City Soundtrack split reviewed.

Rating: 8

Matchbook Romance and Motion City Soundtrack are two bands who have gained an immense following in the past year for their catchy, guitar-driven rock styles and equally energetic live shows. On their acoustic split, they prove that even when unplugged, their technical prowess in their respective approaches stays strong and is even enhanced upon.

The CD begins with the two Matchbook Romance songs. "In Transit (For You)," the first song, starts out softly and simply with Andy Jordan's lone voice accompanied by a single guitar. A little over halfway through, the song crescendos, with a full unplugged band and several background voices being added, and then slowly retreats back into the quiet, single guitar before fading away. Like on their past releases, the lyrics are strong, with striking natural metaphors such as, "Scatter me across the sky/I'll shine all night/ And just like a star/ I'll fall for you." Their second song is an acoustic version of "Playing for Keeps," from their most recent release, Stories and Alibis.

"When You're Around," the third song and first Motion City Soundtrack one on the split, at first seems somewhat bare without the moog driven grooves featured on I am the Movie. But it is this absence that allows one to fully absorb the unique richness of Justin Pierre's vocals and how the phrases, while not entirely coherent on paper, form complex tongue-twisters that start and stop in time with the chord changes on the guitar. Finally the split ends with Motion City Soundtrack's "Sunday Warning," which has the fullest sound of all the songs on the split, as it includes a full unplugged band for almost the entirety of the piece. It also continues the tongue-twister lyrics of the previous song with lines such as "train track star love of golf club hunting," and in the end fades into amp squeals.

The only drawback to the album is how short it is (less than 20 minutes total); it's the kind of CD that leaves you wishing that there was some kind of hidden bonus track. I would highly recommend this split to anyone who is a fan of these bands or to anyone who has heard about either one but has not had the time to pick up their past releases. It's the perfect introduction to their differing, yet equally listenable, styles.

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