Review Summary: Is it my nostalgia speaking, or is this really this good?
Nostalgia works in mysterious ways. It forces us to love something more than others do, and may even provide the means to believe something is better than it really is. Either way, this phenomenon is experienced by all of us at one point in our lives, and influences us in ways we cannot imagine. As far as I can remember, Matchbox Twenty’s “Mad Season” was one of the first records I had ever listened to along with Third Eye Blind’s Self-Titled. This had become an instant classic for me, for I was drawn in by the hooks and the sheer accessibility of the record. I had also attended my first rock concert on the “Mad Season” tour at age eleven and was awed by the energy and realistic feel of the night. My admiration for Matchbox Twenty had only grown more from here, I had purchased “Yourself Or Someone Like You” and enjoyed it as well. Even as a grew older and the band grew off me a bit, I still retained a modest reverence towards Matchbox Twenty, due to the nostalgic principle. Despite all of this, I am prepared to prove that this album is quite deserving of this rating.
Prior to Rob Thomas’ solo success in conventional pop, he was the lead singer of a prominent mainstream pop-rock band. Yes, Matchbox Twenty was quite popular in the late 1990’s in the early 2000’s, releasing three commercially successful albums. The debut record, “Yourself Or Someone Like You” was immensely fashionable on the charts due to singles Real World
, 3 AM
, and Back 2 Good
. On the whole, the record was a great mainstream rock record, hooks a-plenty and diverse. “Mad Season” would demonstrate that it was a growth from its predecessor, for it was more powerful. “Mad Season” did see a great deal of radio play as well with Bent
, If You’re Gone
, Last Beautiful Girl
, and Mad Season
“Mad Season” is an intricately developed and outstanding pop-rock record, orchestras, horns, and back-up singing contributing to the already dazzling songwriting. In the record’s first song, Thomas claims, “And it's good that I'm not angry.” “Mad Season,” for what it’s worth follows this statement, the blatant anger of Push
is missing, and the result is a much more emotional collection of tracks. Crutch
, although serves as one of the exceptions, it is one of the more aggressive tracks here, with Thomas explaining that well, “I couldn’t be your crutch.” The song listing could not have been created more delicately, for the following track Last Beautiful Girl
is the most wonderful and sentimental pieces on the album. The catchy and mellow feel is nothing short of magnificent, and grows to a powerful and fitting climax with Thomas belting out “The one that you wrecked won’t take you back.”
The hook-laden formula is subject to a great deal of the record, and is especially accentuated on the title-track. This at one time single, draws the listener in with “I need you now, do you think I can cope?” and still contains enough changes to be a spectacular song. Thomas’ falsetto at the bridge is arguably the highlight of the track, and indicates that there is passion everywhere on this album. Rest Stop
follows this dynamic, but has a much more sentimental feel, complete with strings and a slow pace. Rest Stop’s
ambiance is quite beautiful, and Thomas’ lyrics are tragic, “She said while you were sleeping, I was listening to the radio
and wondering what you're dreaming when it came to mind that I didn't care. So I thought hell if it's over, I had better end it quick or I could lose my nerve. Are you listening? Can you hear me? Have you forgotten?” The ballads seem to overshadow much of the upbeat and playful tracks, Bed of Lies
and You Won’t Be Mine
are evidence of this. Both utilize the backing orchestra tremendously and the latter is haunting and blatant. As the strings build to an ultimate dynamic, Thomas is blunt, “Over the lies, you'll be strong, you'll be rich in love and you will carry on, but oh no, no you won't be mine.” Lead single Bent’s
insistent style is effective as well, it also possesses the accessibility and emotion that made this album as good as it is.
Not to say “Mad Season” doesn’t have its brighter sections. Both Black and White People
and If You’re Gone
taking full advantage of the horns, with the latter enjoying an uplifting and ultra-catchy atmosphere. Overall, “Mad Season” is a truly brilliant pop-rock album, and should forever stand out as the best by Matchbox Twenty. Maybe it’s my nostalgia speaking, but “Mad Season” is one of the greatest mainstream records of the decade.
Last Beautiful Girl
You Won’t Be Mine