Motion City Soundtrack/Matchbook Romance Split

In support of my theory that even a mediocre punk band can sound fantastic if you put acoustic guitars in their hands, I submit the cases of both Matchbook Romance and Motion City Soundtrack. Both bands’ careers have been marked by largely static and uninteresting output, but here, with the tempos slowed down and the more emotive, wooden backdrop, both bands really shine as alternative troubadours rather than formulaic punk or emo groups. The four all-new compositions (two by each) that comprise this self-titled, split EP are revelatory snippets of songs crafted by both bands. When cleared of all the additional volume and distortion, lyricism and dynamics take the forefront of the songs and reveal a gift for song dynamics previously unnoticeable in their combined previous records (particularly Motion City Soundtrack). In truth, Matchbook Romance’s contributions get over slightly better for the crystal clear production and balance, but anyone familiar with MR’s catalogue knows that the band had the potential for great music in them. The real surprise is in Motion City Soundtrack’s songs. The stripped down arrangements let Josh Cain’s vocals soar and don’t confine them to the higher registers in the mixes. Cain is freer to attempt more adventurous melodies than he has previously and the songs (particularly "When ‘You’re Around”) are easily the best of the band’s career to date. (Epitaph)