The Matches' guerilla-style self-promotion for 2003's E. Von Dahl Killed The Locals ignited a bidding war that found nü-punk stable Epitaph making the sweetest deal. Oddly, though, while Epitaph's support let the Oakland, California quartet build a fan base among Warped Tour throngs, the Matches' sound ultimately aims to snare those throngs' older, hipper siblings.

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Like 2006's Decomposer, A Band In Hope pushes the Matches further from the scene that spawned it—although production credits from John Feldmann (Story Of The Year) and Mike Green (Paramore) might indicate otherwise. Standouts like "AM Tilts" and "Their City" jerk and shimmer with '80s funk-punk fervor. "If I Were You" and "Future Tense" owe as much to Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello as to My Chemical Romance and Head Automatica. And the four-part harmonies and tympani swells in "Darkness Rising" sound like they fell off a Danny Elfman soundtrack. If "punk" means going your own weird way, A Band In Hope embodies the term. But as the Matches' defining statement, it no longer applies.