Before we begin, let me say that if you are expecting the Matchbox Twenty of the ‘90s/early 2000s in this new release, don’t. North sounds like a mix between Rob Thomas’ solo repertoire and the “new” tunes on 2007’s Exile on the Mainstream. It is very poppy and upbeat, contrary to the Matchbox of the ‘90s.
Back in the day, which was a Wednesday (Dane Cook reference, if you didn’t pick up on it), this band was a soft/alt rock band with a distinguishable sound. While Thomas’ voice is distinguishable by itself, the backing band has lost its rock influences since 2002’s More Than You Think You Are. However, that is not to say that 2012’s North lacks the catchiness and relatable characteristics which have made up the music of Matchbox Twenty since day one. Several of the twelve tracks on the regular edition of North are exceptionally catchy and memorable despite the loss of the band’s once signature soft rock sound.
The first single from the new record, “She’s So Mean,” is easily the closest to old school Matchbox, being the only rock track present. It is definitely a song that will liven any Matchbox Twenty fan, from singing along to the studio version to screaming the lyrics back to Rob Thomas in concert. Aside from “She’s So Mean,” I would have to say my favorite track off North is easily “English Town.” This is one of the few songs which Thomas did not write out of Matchbox Twenty’s entire discography. As my father noted, “English Town” begins almost with a David Bowie-type dreary feel before breaking into an upbeat, catchy verse. After hearing this song for the first time, it was already stuck in my head.
The aforementioned tracks are the most notable songs off of North. Overall, the new release sounds very upbeat with some mood variation throughout its forty-two minute duration. While North holds no competition toward the likes of Mad Season or More Than You Think You Are, it is worth a proper listen.
Check out the music video for “She’s So Mean”: