Studio Album by released in 2012
North's tracklist:
She's So Mean
Put Your Hands Up
Our Song
I Will
English Town
How Long
The Way
Like Sugar
Sleeping At The Wheel

North review

Back from sleep

It is hard to resist the temptation to ask the members of Matchbox Twenty what they have been doing all these years and why they have made their fans wait for their new release so long. If you leave out the best-of collection Exile On Mainstream (2007), it turns out that the popular American ensemble did not release anything new for ten years. Apparently, the musicians found it difficult to live through the failure of their third album and decided to part their ways and find their comfort in other projects. Speaking of which, Rob Thomas has released two solo albums, and the other members of the band have either played elsewhere or wrote songs for other performers. Of course, the appearance of a new record marked Matchbox Twenty on music store shelves after ten years of nothing is first of all a mighty marketing move based on the surprising effect and nostalgic impulses in numerous supporters of the Florida band. In cases like that few are concerned with the question what kind of music actually is offered by the ensemble that is back from a lifetime of oblivion.

Minimum novelty

Produced by Grammy winner Matt Serletic, North erases the time abyss that withdrew between this record and its predecessors. The Matchbox Twenty members have not changed a bit as authors and performers. The album is filled tight with quality and catchy songs, most of which have been made by a time-tested pattern no one ever thought of changing. Rhythmic Parade, and She’s So Mean please your ear with plain, yet sticky themes which settle down in your mind for good, and their words are so simple you seem to learn them by heart at once. To change tempo, the record then offers a slower one, Overjoyed, with another melody that will not let you be. Then comes the time of careful and meticulous experiments. Soft pop rock is put on the layer of thick beats, and is shape of Put Your Hands Up, and Our Song we have a couple of fine dance tracks. Yet Matchbox Twenty have no intention to make their album into a research laboratory, and here all their explorations come to an end. What may seem like a surprise is probably The Way where instead of regular vocalist Rob Thomas guitarist Cyle Cook takes up singing duties.

Band’s fans will be glad

Matchbox Twenty made a wise conclusion that during their absence the music had gone through serious changes, and their attempt to catch up with them could be a disaster. What looked a much safer strategy was playing the way they always did, with focus on the simplicity and availability of their material. The songs from North, like the ensemble’s older stuff, have an immediate impact on the audience, caressing listeners with light melancholy and drawing them with irresistible melodiousness. It takes a while and a few listens to notice the unexpected strings in English Town or original blend of synths and guitars in Like Sugar, but right off, from the very first chords, do you feel the urge to follow these songs, surrendering to their power. North aims at emotions, but it is helpless before the thorough analysis of a strict expert. Objectively speaking, Matchbox Twenty did not even try to appear on their fourth album a stronger, a more mature collective. Impartial critics will accuse the band of the reluctance to grow and evolve, and the album of endlessly copying their best efforts from the past. But all of this is just a minority opinion, which will dissolve in the delight of the majority, people who have cherished and still do the music of this great ensemble.

Alex Bartholomew (14.09.2012)
Rate review3.86
Total votes - 15

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