Firstly, I have to address with the clusterfuck of a press kit from HOLIER THAN THOU records...it starts off by stating that the band appear ready, willing and able to add another exciting chapter to their hometown's noble rock history...OK so you're following in the footsteps of THE BEATLES...no harm there, one of the biggest bands in the history of music...it also states they've shared stages with the likes of THE QUIREBOYS and ELECTRIC SIX, well respected touring bands...again, no harm there...experience is good...but then it turns around and goes "oh by the way, Iain? The bassist? Yeah he buggered off, oh, and we're changing our name soon to ATTIC THEORY, and oh, this new album is essentially our 4 best old songs after 12 years together plus some new stuff..." Also, according to this, the primary genre here is POP!? (0_0) If I may channel my inner AVGN; WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?! Honesty is good don't get me wrong but sell me the artist! Nevertheless...
We open up with "Wake Up Call" and Lewis' somewhat threatening introductory shout of "This is your wake up call!". For the most part there's a touch of HURT-inspired hard rock mixed with an ever so subtle southern groove and it's far from pop-driven, it chuggs along relatively generically however and, there's an awkward transition pre-chorus too that doesn't quite seem to flow. The guitar solo is pleasant mind you...before "Cheap Little Thrill" takes that southern rock, blues tone even further. It starts off well and it really nails the vibe and characteristics of the genre, but the chorus again...specifically Lewis here, he aims for some high notes that do neither him nor the song justice.
"Wrong Side Of 30" has an up-tempo sense of swagger to it and in ways you could say that this has elements of BUCKCHERRY, it's got more attitude and is one of the albums better cuts, guitarist Peter Donnelly really shining here being allowed to indulge, while by contrast "Different Paths", a far slower offering, despite being rich in harmony, it's sweetly saturnine, sounding like one of BON JOVI's saddest efforts, before album highlight "Hit By Chance" embraces a heavier approach to good effect while retaining the bands clear love for groove-rock. It's meatier and again, it's Donnelly who shines, before "Numb" ends things as we began, with more Hurt-esque hard rock.
So, what can said about Matchstickmen? They certainly don't sound like a British rock band that's for sure, there's more Louisiana than Liverpool in these guys. I honestly do feel that, there are aspects of this album that will see them do a lot better stateside, than they could do on home soil, from a marketing standpoint at least, not that I'm telling them to piss off to another country by any means...not at all. With the name change coming and a potential complete refresh, I'll wait to see how they evolve as a band...as far as this album goes however, acting as a closing chapter for this stage of their career, it's pretty run of the mill. Matchstickmen better come back in 3D.