The newest EP from Matthew & Me,Golden Charms, sees the band take on a diverse range of sounds while maintaining a peculiar sense of cohesiveness and spirit throughout. After my first listen, what really struck me wasn’t just the versatility of the band, but the sheer amount of heart channeled into each song. The five-piece outfit boasts a unique blend of indie folk-rock that doesn’t betray the emotions attached to it, but instead coats them in lush instrumentation and puts them in the limelight for the rest of us to marvel at.
The title track “Golden Charms” holds a certain rustic feel to it, with passionate vocals at the forefront driving it on. The anthemic style that Of Monsters and Men has become known for is fairly prominent on this one, and I’m definitely not complaining. The melodious hook in the chorus, which repeats throughout, comes across almost as a declaration from the band and its energy serves as the perfect opening to the album. The song closes with a hauntingly beautiful piano outro flourished with echoing skids in the background, setting the tone for the next three songs in the four-track document.
“Letters” is easily the standout track of Golden Charms for me. Opening with perfectly executed guitar swells and gradual layering to emulate the atmospheric textures of Bon Iver, the band exemplifies a level of maturity in their development of the track. Once the harmonies kick in, the song grows into something that sees the band push the boundaries of simple folk music, taking bolder steps with the dynamic switches that Justin Vernon and co. are known to utilise as well. The six-minute journey they take us through is just breathtaking, and sticks to you in such a memorable way.
The band also chooses to dwell on the mellow side of things, with “Rose to Find” showcasing their stripped back style with just an acoustic guitar and eerily soothing harmonies. Sounding almost like an early Damien Rice writing a song for a movie based in medieval times, Matthew & Me truly puts their range of capabilities on display here. The dark undertones as they sing the words “Moon and stars they guide me / They feed my dreams when I can’t sleep / Go easy, go easy” are paired perfectly with the tension in their choice of chord tones. Mellow beginnings are also heard with “September”, as the band builds the song in such a delicate manner that you can only sit back and appreciate their talent for knowing when to hit the right note. It’s the kind of tune you listen to while sitting at the beach with your best friends, watching the sunrise and reminiscing the good old days.
Matthew & Me has shown enormous potential with their latest EP, highlighted by their flair for experimentalism and creating avenues for the music to simply soak in. This intimate collection of songs on Golden Charms isn’t just a checkpoint in their career, but a statement of intent for the things to come, and I personally couldn’t be more excited about them.