Emery have become somewhat of a tour de force in the emo/screamo/post-hardcore scene. Since forming in South Carolina and relocating to the West Coast after their signing to Tooth and Nail Records they have captivated hundreds of thousands of fans with the contrast of their beautiful vocals with harsh screaming, and even recently, the occasional breakdown. An acoustic album has been in talks for the Emery guys for years. Well, now it has finally emerged. Except, now it is a full side project, simply titled Matt and Toby.
So, it should be clarified that Matt and Toby, while being a mellow album, is hardly an acoustic album. Another reviewer called Matt and Toby “Emery-lite” – this is pretty accurate. If the guys wanted to put out an indie pop record this would be it. And they pull it off well. This surprises no one that likes Emery, in all likelihood but it ought to broaden the audience that Matt (Carter) and Toby (Morell) appeal to. This is the kind of record that is best listened to in an intimate setting, with an untarnished expectation on the part of the listener. That said, it is fair to comment on the variety of sounds heard on the record. Yes, the “Emery-lite” sound is consistent throughout every song. This is mostly due to Toby Morrell’s unmistakable vocals, however. The sounds are everywhere from acoustic pop/folk (“Come Home”), dance-y indie pop (“Prodigal Sons and Daughters”), indie rock (“Life of the Party”) and derivatives of the aforementioned. The highlight of the record is definitely “What Plays in My Head,” a tune containing chill inducing gentle guitar licks. One more thing – this record is unashamedly faith-inspired. It’s inevitable that this will turn-off many would be listeners. This is a shame – Matt and Toby is without a doubt one of the hidden gems of 2012. Really, the only drawback is the tendency of a few tracks to “drag.” This flaw is negligible, though.