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Album Review: Striking Matches – Nothing But The Silence

2 min read

Nothing But the Silence, the debut album from country-rock duo Striking Matches is the very definition of a serviceable album. It’s solid, enjoyable stuff: just don’t expect it to surprise you.  There’s nothing in the record’s forty four minutes that works outside the box, but, ultimately Nothing But The Silence is a harmless, nice little diversion.

Striking Matches - Nothing But The SilenceAlbum opener Trouble Is As Trouble Does is suitably enthusiastic, and establishes the record’s unashamedly optimistic tone. Although there are moments of grit on the record (particularly on the impressively damaged pop strains of Never Gonna Love Again), such snatches of rawness are overwhelmed by the slick, polished sound and the upbeat textures. Every moment of powerfully emotive darkness is followed by a moment of predictable, by the numbers pop-country cliché. Take for example, Like Lovers, a song that boasts emotive lyric and the album’s strongest vocal performances, but is ultimately let down by lifeless acoustic backing, and a whimper of an ending, rather than the bang that could have carried off the track into the territory of the truly impressive.

The problem largely stems from the record’s overproduced feel. I’m not arguing that Nothing But The Silence necessarily needs a total lo-fi overhaul, but it definitely screams out for at least a few moments of music that haven’t been polished and lacquered to the point of mundanity.  Just take Nothing But The Silence, an understated track that goes straight for the heartstrings, but fails: it’s just too slick, too harmless, and ultimately sounds like countless songs that have come before.

But there I go again: reviewing the album that I wish Nothing But The Silence was, instead of the one that it is. Although these problems are impossible to ignore, as commercial radio fare Nothing But The Silence is pretty good. Missing You Tonight, the album’s strongest track, is far from ground-breaking, but it works, in a predictable though enjoyable way. The likes of God And You, When The Right One Comes Along and Hanging On A Lie might not leave a trace by the time they’re over, but they hold just the requisite amount of your attention while they’re playing.

Nothing But The Silence has already garnered a significant number of fans, proving that the record must be doing something right, even if it didn’t exactly work for me.  Let the last words be these then: it’s middle of the road stuff, but it’s good middle of the road stuff.