Twenty's Mediocre Album Lacks Spark Needed To Attract New Fans
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
It has been a decade since Matchbox Twenty has released a new studio album—not including their 2007 compilation album, Exile on Mainstream. So with the release of North, has it been worth the wait?
If you’re already a Matchbox Twenty fan, then yes, but if you’re not, this album certainly won’t be the one to turn you on to them and keep you hooked for life.
Matchbox Twenty really hasn’t changed their sound since their heyday in the ’90s—therefore, North sounds more of that decade, with a forced modern pop fusion than anything else. The band didn’t stray far from what its fans are used to hearing, so this new album should be sure to please old fans. However, it doesn’t sound like an album that’s been 10 years in the making.
The first single off the album was released earlier this summer, titled “She’s So Mean.” What’s really mean about this song is making the listener—that’s you—listen to the poorly constructed lyrics. With lines like “she’s an uptown, get-around, anything-goes girl,” and “she’s a hardcore, candy store, give-me-some-more girl,” you’re there listening and thinking, “what?” You certainly can’t go wrong rhyming “hardcore” with “candy store” … yeah, you can’t go wrong at all.
Well, somebody out there must really like the song because “She’s So Mean” is currently No. 53 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart.
You can forgive these unfortunate lyrics in “She’s So Mean” because the overall song is upbeat. The music video, however, is a little lame. It is basically just a “hardcore girl” trashing the set while the band plays in what looks like a train terminal. And when Rob Thomas sings, he looks a bit uncomfortable when he says “I kn-kn-know a girl / She gets what she wants all the time / Cause she’s fine / But for an angel she’s a hot, hot mess” (because even he’s thinking, What am I saying?).
Most of the album sounds like it would make great background music in a cheesy and predictable romantic comedy—like that song playing during an inspirational scene. “Parade” is just one of those songs that screams “put me in a movie!”
On a more fun note, “Put Your Hands Up” is arguably one of the best songs off the album. It has a great sound to jump around in your room—when no one’s looking, of course. It also has the makings of a song you dance to while you’re getting ready to go out with your friends—a pump-up song, if you will.
For the most part, the songs on North, no matter how strange the lyrics may be, will get you tapping your foot along to the beat. “Like Sugar,” for instance, is an interesting track with an enticing beat that you can’t help but follow along to without moving some part of your body.
Lead singer and front man Thomas is known for his songwriting talents, as well as his brief stint at a solo career. Some of the better lyrical songs on this album are “I Will,” “English Town,” and “How Long” – so basically the whole middle chunk.
Thomas’ voice is always pleasant to listen to, and with a nice backdrop of guitar and drums it sure does the trick.
The 12-track album ends with a softer song called “Sleeping at the Wheel,” which is actually a nice conclusion. Their ballad-like tunes are where we really see them shine, so it was a wise choice to finish the album with this type of song. “Sleeping at the Wheel” gives the album a bit of a philosophical feel—when you’re done listening to North in its entirety, it makes you think “huh, well, now what?” In a way, Matchbox Twenty leaves you wanting more—that is, of whatever it was you just spent 40 minutes of your life listening to.
North is definitely one of those “it’s so bad, it’s good” albums. How exactly that works, I cannot say.
After you take a listen, one thing still remains a mystery: why exactly is this album titled North?