Matchbox 20: A Review


Richard Tsong-Taatarii

Rob Thomas of Matchbox twenty performs.

On their fifth album, “North”, Matchbox Twenty fails to bring anything truly unique to the table. In fact, it’s a bit fake and desperate to be “hip” and “chill”- like your dad in leather pants. As their last official release of an album is from 2002 and it’s been ten years since then, I understand that things could be a little rocky, but come on guys:  was it really necessary to include “Put Your Hands Up”, a song with a chorus that reminds me of a Disney actress-turned-songstress’s first single? “Put your hands up, it’s all right, singing oh-oh-oh-oh, until the sunrise”.

Another winner is “Radio”, a fantastically cheesy tune complete with peppy blasts of trumpet.  However, “Like Sugar” trumps both “Put Your Hands Up” and “Radio” in terms of unoriginality with its dated ‘80s rock band vibe and lyrics lacking any depth. “I just want to make you go away, but you taste like sugar, yeah you taste like sugar,” croons Rob Thomas.

I’m actually embarrassed to be listening to this.

“North” is not entirely filled with unpleasant music though; as bad as “Like Sugar” is, “English Town” is refreshing.  The chorus is the real highlight of this track with its crescendo of acoustic guitar and showcase of Thomas’s impressive vocals. The track “I Will” improves the album as well with a simple melody that is slightly similar to Rob Thomas’s 2007 solo hit, “Little Wonders”.

The most popular song of the album, “She’s So Mean”, is rightly the star of “North” (no pun intended). In this song that Matchbox Twenty finally finds the perfect balance between the classic songs of its past and the uncharacteristic new stuff they’ve put out. It has a great beat and is easy to sing along to. Its spot at number ninety-five on the iTunes Top Songs chart is reflective of the band’s presence today in pop culture: you’ve heard of Matchbox Twenty and may know some song titles, but not everyone is rushing to buy the latest single.

Overall, “North” is a pretty mixed bag with its glossed over new tunes and gritty, passionate ones that are far and few. Mostly, it just didn’t seem to flow. The eclectic (but not in a good way) jumble of twelve tracks failed to even stick in my head-when it’s not even catchy, you know you’re in trouble.

Even though there were stand out songs on the album, there were not enough of them. Bottom line is that maybe Rob Thomas should stick with his solo career.