After a long and tense wait (ten whole years to be exact), Matchbox Twenty have finally released an album of all new songs entitled North (not counting Exile On Mainstream, which was a compilation album and only had an EP’s worth of new songs). Ever since a new album was reported by vocalist Rob Thomas two years ago, fans everywhere have been sitting on the edge, waiting for the album to finally drop. Well, it’s finally here and it’s still the same old Matchbox Twenty we all know and love.
Listening to North is like taking a step back in time. They were a band making the rounds on MTV and Fuse when I was first getting into music at the age of 12. “Unwell” was one song in particular that was played often on my three-disc stereo system. When I saw that this album is already certified gold in Australia (35,000+ sold so far), I knew there was a good thing here.
Album opener “Parade” is a perfect song that shows growth in the band but also touches slightly upon their familiar sound. Rob Thomas has much more prominent vocals than on, say, More Than You Think You Are. The overall music has gotten noticeably better and is much more refined and clearer than before. Being catchy yet tasteful is where Matchbox Twenty truly overshadow other pop acts of today and that is shown multiple times on the album.
A soon-to-be memorable guitar line starts off “She’s So Mean” and can be instantly marketed to the young adults of today. Matchbox Twenty created music that seemed appropriate to their time, only to come back ten years later and create a brand new feel that seems strangely familiar and is bound to catch on instantly to today’s generation. This song is a good representation of what the band is trying to achieve with North, and that is to create quality music that actually has meaning and will stand to people of any age.
They have been known to make a few sappy songs in their life, and “Overjoyed” is no exception. A cute track that will no doubt be dedicated to tens of thousands of mates all over the world, it’s slowed down, contemporary and isn’t assigned to just our current generation. “Overjoyed” brings a visual sort of grasp to your listening pleasure, with views of couples at the beach, swinging on a chair swing on a front porch, or walking together through a park. Yeah it may sound cheesy, but I implore you to keep an open mind.
What makes this band so unique and legendary in their art is that each track has a different sort of alternative music perception as the album goes on, yet they make it completely their own. Going for a more upbeat and The Killers-esque feel, both “Put Your Hands Up” and “Our Song” bring in more electronic elements with their rock. It switches between slightly ambient moods that are grounded by hooky guitars and drums and high-energy yet mellow choruses that extend a listener’s musical palette.
North is not meant to grab fans from other genre preferences, nor will it alienate the ones who grew up listening to them. There’s nothing not to like with Matchbox Twenty, a legacy they have kept to themselves since the beginning. The one and only fault (or benefit, depending on how you look at it) is that this is an album more suited to listening with your boyfriend or girlfriend as opposed to listening by yourself. Definitely pick this one up.