added: 9 Sep 2012
// release date: 3 Sep 2012 // label: Atlantic
reviewer: David Spencer
Since 2002 Matchbox Twenty have been largely inactive - apart from a few new songs on their greatest hits album Exile On Mainstream in 2007. In that time lead singer Rob Thomas has released two solo albums that were more poppy than the band might have produced, but otherwise largely similar.
Now they are back with an over bloated fifteen new tracks on North, their fifth proper album. Lead single She's So Mean showed the band were not going to stray too much from their familiar territory and it is one of the brighter more memorable tracks here. It is catchy radio power pop, dominated by Thomas’s impressive vocals (still most familiar to people from the track Smooth with Santana).
Never likely to please the UK music critics, Matchbox Twenty are one of many US rock bands that have a hardcore but small UK following. Like The Goo Goo Dolls for example though, they are still capable of selling out larger London venues (as proved with two shows at Shepherd’s Bush Empire and the Roundhouse this autumn).
On North they are best when they remember that they are a rock band at heart, like on the terrifically moody English Town and on I Believe in Everything. It goes wrong when they try and go all Maroon 5 (Put Your Hands Up) or too poppy (Radio). The opening Parade, Overjoyed and the more subtle Sleeping At The Wheel are also impressive examples of what they do best – widescreen accessible rock.
Having waited so long to make the album, it is a shame there is not more adventure. The only place where there is intrigue is on the excellent The Way, which features guitarist Kyle Cook on lead vocals for the first time. The band says that right now this is the best album they could have made, steering clear of the cliché of 'this is the best thing we've done'. And they're right to do so. North might be the best record they could make now, but it is not the best they've done by a little way.
Stay updated with your free Music News daily newsletter. Subscribe here now!
Have Your Say
Click here to win an iPhone5!
> For more Music-News album reviews click here