After teasing anticipating fans with the mediocrity of lead-off single “She’s So Mean” (which confirmed trouble was afoot with the group’s latest effort), Matchbox Twenty’s first proper full-length since 2002, North, has finally landed. After waiting a decade to follow up the radio friendlyMore Than You Think You Are, we find ourselves wondering if this really is the best Rob Thomas and crew have to offer following a 10-year hiatus?
Regrettably, the answer to that question is a resounding yes. North is teeming with sub-par radio fodder (the Maroon 5 sound-alike “Put Your Hands Up”) and uninspired tunes full of lyrical clichés (“Sleeping At The Wheel” and “Radio”). The ballad “Overjoyed” and the acoustic “I Will” sound dissonantly like Matchbox Twenty has become trapped inside an endless loop of writing the same ballad repeatedly, ad nauseam. Thomas actually sums up the album best with his own words in the monotonous “Like Sugar,” when he sings: “This ain’t my finest hour.”
Still, North does manage to produce a few brief moments of promise (the brooding opener “Parade” and the picturesque “English Town”), but it mostly smacks of a desperate attempt at a comeback, blatantly rehashing trite lyrics and the bathetic emotionalism of Rob Thomas’ solo efforts. North seems destined to forever relegate Matchbox Twenty into the next generation of unremarkable dad rock.