0.5 stars (out of four)
Matchbox Twenty (or Matchbox 20 as they previously were known) fall into a very specific category of late-‘90s nostalgia that also houses Third Eye Blind (still LOVE) and Train (horrifying). I figured Rob Thomas 'n' the gang would fall somewhere in the middle with their first full album of new material in a decade … oh, how wrong I was.
Is Matchbox Twenty kind of terrible now? Or am I just not 14 anymore? Here's my track-by-track, knee-jerk analysis.
1—“Parade”: Oh yay, this sounds like vintage Matchbox Twenty. This is a good track for plotting your hometown escape in high school, aka what I was doing most of the time.
2—“She's So Mean”: You really shouldn't sound this happy when singing about someone awful. She drags you to the club, then leaves with her friends—oh the horror! This should be your anthem before you hit on a bartender with low self-esteem.
3—“Overjoyed”: Rob Thomas sings, "That smile on your face like summer…" If by summer, you mean, "that nasty sunburn I got on the backs of my legs."
Side note: There are few things I hate more than really, really sing-songy choruses. It's the reason I almost stabbed my eyes out when Daniel Powter’s "Bad Day" was popular. So when 2/3 of the first songs on "North"—“She's So Mean" and "Overjoyed"--whipped out the tactic, I was clawing at my head.
4—“Put Your Hands Up”: Oh good, someone discovered voice distortion mics. I'm assuming this dance track is also to be played to get over the chick from "She's So Mean" if the bartender turns you down.
5—“Our Song”: "I'll never make you cry again/I'm gonna set things right again." You can start by never playing this song again. The beat is atrocious.
6—“I Will”: (At this point, I saw that there are 14 songs on the deluxe version of this album and died a little on the inside.) "Take a little piece of me/Hang it by the place you sleep." So, like, your pinkie finger? Actually, this song is less wretched than some of the others; I shouldn't make fun.
7—“English Town”: Oooo, Rob is getting growly now. There was a lot about the sun breaking, so I'm just assuming he stayed up drinking all night.
8—“How Long”: I told you this already, SIX more songs after this. Sheesh.
9—“Radio”: This is one of those obnoxious songs where you just know Matchbox is going to try to get people to clap along when they play it live.
10—“The Way”: I think what really annoys me about this album is that Rob's voice has exactly two tones: upbeat and slightly mournful. This one is the latter.
11—“Like Sugar”: Alternate title: "She's So Mean, Part 2."
12—“Sleeping at the Wheel”: Alternate title: "Parade: Part 2." Except for more annoying.
No. 13—"I Believe in Everything," and No. 14—Straight for This Life," were not included in this preview, so I mercifully didn't have to listen to them. Do yourself a favor and avoid them, and this entire album, altogether. If you need me, I'll be listening to some actual decent songwriting and melodies that don't all sound exactly the same.
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