Epitaph swooped in and signed The Matches after the band had self-released "E. Von Dahl Killed The Locals," (this disc has been remastered for its re-release) and hopefully, with all its power behind it, this disc can reach in and stem the spreading of the nearly uncontrollable screamo disease. THE MATCHES sound like the unlikely concoction of mixing OPERATION IVY with BLINK 182 and WEEZER - and having it all taste like a good pizza.
Hailing from Oakland, California, these guys definitely incorporate what used to be known as that "East Bay" punk rock sound, with mainstream pop sensibilities. At times, "E. Von Dahl..." is as gratuitious with its massive melodies as the feelings a young child experiences after cleaning out a cookie jar. THE MATCHES sugarcoat their harmonies in a most infectious manner, though leave enough uncovered edges as to make sure that the band's punk rock roots are firmly established. The third track of this disc, "Chain Me Free," captures a fair summarization of what THE MATCHES bring to the table, employing a mid-tempo pace, a generous chorus, capable guitars, and gobs of personality. If you close your eyes long enough, you can picture the band playing this song in the corner of a basement surrounded by kids holding their red plastic beer cups high in the air while singing along with reckless abandon. Although there's a few duds on "E. Von Dahl..." the many standout tracks carry more than their own weight through all 40 minutes of this release, especially "Eryn Smith," and the ridiculously memorable trio of songs "The Jack Slap Cheer," "Destination: Nowhere Near," and "Sick Little Suicide."
Part of the reason why "E. Von Dahl..." is so enjoyable is that its lyrical strength draws on wittiness and charm, rather than coping an obnoxious, overdone attitude. THE MATCHES run through the gamut of topics, hitting everything from self-deprecation to social commentary, all in a manner that lends well to the tone of the band's music. It's easy at times to lose sight of the fact that music can be fun and lighthearted while not becoming an embarassment to listen to, and I can't imagine THE MATCHES not putting a smile on most people's faces.
By Jordan A. Baker