Matchbox Twenty



by arthurwontgivein USER (3 Reviews)
October 1st, 2012 | 12 replies

Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Matchbox Twenty go South.

Let's start at the very beginning. Shimmering picked guitar thick with reverb, Rob Thomas' unmistakeable vocal enters: "When the slow parade went past / and it felt so good you knew it couldn't last / and all too soon the end is gonna come without a warning / and you have to just go home"

North's introduction filled me with as much hope as could reasonably be expected. Matt Serletic, generous as ever with his bass mix (The beginning of 'Real World' pleases me to this day. Back when 'listening out' for the bass wasn't something you had to remind yourself to do), subtle strings and harmonies arrive, and the chorus! No. Wait. Pre-chorus! And still building. 'And there's so much more that you could see / if you'd just stick around' (is that a promise, Rob"). Then, 'ohhhh nooohooooh / there's so much more that you need to work out'.

The chorus hook delivers, I unclench.

While not the entry to their debut album Yourself or Someone Like You, Matchbox Twenty's (overdue) new album begins with a lot of promise. As a longstanding fan of Rob Thomas I have listened to both Tabitha's Secret and his solo efforts but feel Matchbox Twenty is where the effortlessly cool front man sounds best.

Despite shallow lyrics, 'She's so Mean' is a decent second track, showing off some astute drumming by Paul Doucette. The tightly gated drum mix itself is pretty interesting also (it's like the opposite of Augustana's open, 'roomy' approach). Toms that sound as if they were recorded in another studio, on another day. It's really sweet production and the purposefully saccharin style of the song in general makes up for its flaws.

'Overjoyed', track 3, a slower paced acoustic number, isn't bad but the fourth song comes to an end along with my hopes. 'Put Your Hands Up' is just bad. Featuring a superficial dance aesthetic, it's like the 'vampire movie' of the album, an uncomfortable attempt at something sellable. By now the fresh taste of new Matchbox material is wearing off and I feel like the overall quality of North is becoming clear.

To cut to the chase, 'How Long' is probably the best example of what this album could have been. With a rather bizarre fairground-synth-Hanson-rock style, a growling bass and some splendid falsetto harmonies, it's a genuine surprise and while not sounding much like the Matchbox Twenty of old it's a very well delivered and dynamic song. But despite including a variety of quirky styles, it's at this point I realise the problem with this record. It's all well and good having a varied mix of song styles on an album; 'How Long' proves it. Yes, it's all well and good, as long as they are good. And, though this song really is, most of the others just aren't. They're distractingly average. Matchbox show all they are capable of here, from the middle eight (Thomas' fast-paced vocal delivering 'like a high school crush / make you wanna run' and 'tell me that I want you every night of my life' - a nice nod to their 'college rock' roots), right down to its charmingly impromptu ending. But one or two outstanding songs aren't enough (what was the other outstanding song again").

Fans have waited an awful long time for this. Maybe it's my fault for having high expectations, living in the past and hoping for something impossible. But as I try to picture this as a band I've never heard before, an album to be rated on its own merits, it just isn't very good. There's only so far a beautiful vocal take you.

Without Thomas' voice, this might as well be a different band from the one that recorded YOSLY. What is intrinsically Matchbox Twenty" What is their sound" The answer is not immediate to me. Without Thomas' voice, what you have is a decent pop rock act that, by what I now believe may be some particularly good fortune, made a sensational start to a very timely rock album in the mid 90's, and then managed two patchy albums over the next 15 years.

Actually, make that 3 patchy albums.

When the highest compliment you can pay is that the band sound best when they don't really sound like themselves, you're reviewing a flawed album. Not because they should remain in 1996 (would it have been so bad"), but because I should be hailing the songwriting. What happened to the songs" These are by now established songwriters. Professionals. This should have been, despite everything else, production, aesthetic, tone, content, an album of great songs. And it's not.

I get the feeling I may like this album eventually (like 2001: A Space Odyssey, or lager). But right now maybe YOSLY is still too close, too raw. Maybe I'm living in the past. Or maybe the first four songs on that album really were unforgettable"

user ratings (70)
other reviews of this album
tmagistrelli (4)
The kings of late 90's/early 21st century pop rock have returned with not their best work, however a...

Comments:Add a Comment 
September 30th 2012


my mum loves this band

September 30th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

I thought this was enjoyable, but i wont listen to it again

September 30th 2012


this is pop punx and even I don't know what they sound like.

September 30th 2012


rob thomas and sinbad

October 1st 2012


Will probably check this out. Have been one of my go to guilty pleasure bands for years.

October 2nd 2012


"my mum loves this band"

same. she fucking came in her pants when she saw they were playing on Ellen today.

Staff Reviewer
October 2nd 2012


Digging: Julien Baker - Turn Out The Lights

October 3rd 2012


Album Rating: 2.0

I had a feeling after seeing the single that it would be much of the same. Oh well, track 7 isn't so bad though. About all I can say.

Agreed 100% about the first song. Same reaction.

October 5th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

I feel that "The Way" is the best track from this album. Overall, it is indeed average, There is some pretty stuff that happens, but most of it doesn't connect with me.

October 7th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

Me or Thomas?

Captain Civic
April 7th 2015


Album Rating: 3.5

While they've done better albums overall, this has definitely the best opener and best closer.

December 13th 2015


Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah Sleeping at the Wheel is one of my favs

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