Matchbox Twenty's North has its moments

By 1996 the grunge movement had started to fade. After all of the raw lyrics and ear piercing guitars, it was time for something a little quieter. Enter Matchbox Twenty and Yourself or Someone Like You. It was an album that cut through a now softened teenage angst. Not groundbreaking, but well timed, lead-singer Rob Thomas and company found a few hits from their debut album. Not quite able to follow up with their initial success the band would release a few more albums, go on a couple of hiatuses, and bring us to their first full release in a decade -- North.

To tell you the truth, I've got mixed feelings about it. Some have quipped, 'What have they been up to for the past decade?'.  It seems like a question you'd ask if you weren't there for the first album. Real World, Push, and 3 AM were among the hits that put them on the map, and their latest offering returns to that feel. Sort of.

North starts strong with a track called Parade. You'll feel like it's '96 all over again. Thomas' broken vocals stretched across an echoed guitar bring to mind a time and place that 16 years gone just can't replace. She's So Mean, the 2nd track, is reminiscent of Real World. It's an enthusiastic start. Unfortunately, the album begins to downshift from there.

If you're a fan of Thomas' voice, and his voice alone (accompanied only by an acoustic guitar), you'll likely enjoy track 6 called I Will. Arguably, it's the band's greatest strength. And, by band, I mean solely Thomas. His voice is like soft-serve ice cream. This means it's likely to melt faster. (Note: That's not a scientific fact, just an observation based on a hot day at the fair.)

Anyway, the last real shot the album has is with a song called Radio. The drums are emphatic throughout. It's uplifting. It's track 9, and hopefully you've made it to this point. Other than what's been mentioned, there isn't much.

A note about the last song called Sleeping At The Wheel - it sounds like solo work that Bono threw away.

It's not as memorable as their debut, but it certainly has its moments. Thomas has also done solo work that has not panned out so well. Combine those two thoughts and you're left with the idea that these guys just need to stick with what they know and what their fans expect.

(Out of 4 Stars)

Blair Henatyzen is a London radio announcer and can be followed on Twitter @LdnOnt_Blair.



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