When one thinks of the band Emery there are a few different things that may come to mind. One might be the band’s strong up-bringing four to five years ago. Another might be the band’s killer live shoe. Maybe it’s the band’s involvement with Solid State Records, a subsidiary of Tooth And Nail dedicated to heavier acts.
With all those things being listed, bright hooks and poppy acoustic strumming are not really elements that coincide with the band. Even so, that is what we find on Emery guitarist and vocalist Matt Carter and Toby Morrell’s side project, simply known as Matt & Toby. The band has always shown a want to deliver some softer material and this self-titled debut is the result of that desire: a result that turns out to be more of a miss than a hit.
Right away the stylistic differences between the members’ related projects is made prevalent. “Life of the Party” is a mid-tempo alternative/pop track that will solicit many toe taps and head bobs from any interested listeners. Though this change in style comes off as a little refreshing, as Morrell’s full vocals really transfer over well, Carter and Morrell as a whole do not really bring much inventiveness to the table.
Track number two, “You Will Swing” is a parody of itself, in a way, as a cheesy song that is really self-aware of its cheesiness. But that really isn’t enough to save what is otherwise a really tiring and cliché listen.
As the record progresses more and more of these tired, cheesy ballad-esque songs pop up, leaving listeners with a strong desire for the more fun, upbeat vibe of the first track. The only time the duo really revisits this solid choice in sound is on “Prodigal Sons And Daughters,” a danceable number backed by the delightful little hook of, “We like to dance/We like to sing.”