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  • North
  • Customer reviews

on 30 October 2012
I wasn't going to review Matchbox's latest record. It seemed to polarise opinions and I wasn't in any rush to wade in with mine. For the record I think it's a fairly decent album. Tracks like Parade, Overjoyed, The Way and especially Sleeping At The Wheel are among the best they've done. Sadly these rather scrumptious songs have been almost destroyed by a mastering murder job. Lovely moments of musicianship have been turned into hissy, distorted lumps of noise. If you have even a halfway decent sound system this album will make your ears bleed and have your speakers begging for mercy.

So my review is essentially to put the knife into this loudness war madness which has claimed yet another album. There are more and more albums being released this way but this is the absolute worst I've heard yet. I had to remaster the album using Audacity, if only to turn the volume down. I've been listening to a lot of older music lately, in particular Gerry Rafferty. The difference in sonic quality is just staggering. Music is being murdered. Don't stand for it. Two stars for an absolute botch job.
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on 18 September 2012
Like many, I was excited about this album, having loved the majority of MB20's output as well as RT's solo output. Heard She's So Mean on the radio and, although it didn't immediately strike me as typical of the band, I found it catchy and uplifting. Getting the album, I eagerly anticipated an enjoyable evening reacquainting myself after their lengthy absence. Things started off quite well. I found the first three or four songs OK but then the whole sound just started to irritate me. Surprise surprise, the loudness war claims another casualty. What a nasty, unpleasant sound this album has. There is this amazing invention called 'volume control' . Been around for a number of years now. Sadly, the insecure, money whore bean pushers at the major record labels are terrified I might not be able to hear their album and that i'm too stupid to adjust the volume myself so they set the volume for me. Unfortunately their method of volume control also means that the detail of the music (the low bits, the middle bits and the high bits) is all squashed into one big ball of mush which is then smacked repeatedly against your senses. Funny how a lot of the reviews for this album are negative. COuld it be that many people just can't get into the songs because they can't decipher them properly? Noise pollution at its worst. I'm just appalled that I gave my money to a bunch of people that are rubbish at what they do. Not so much the band but the producers and engineers. If I produced work of this quality in my job then i'd probably be fired. These people are constantly getting away with this sonic slaughter and the music industry wonders why it's in such a state.
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on 27 February 2013
The album's lead single `She's So Mean' gave an indication that the band were going for more of a pop approach as opposed to the rockier sounds of their first three albums. As a fan of those earlier albums this new approach was surprising on first listen, but it quickly grew on me, as a catchy pop song with plenty of commercial appeal. It doesn't quite belong up there with songs like `3AM', `Push' or `If You're Gone' but it re-established that the band were back together, and still had great chemistry working together despite the elapse of time.

The album begins with an absolute gem, in the understated `Parade' which seems to lament the passing of time, and the band's disappearance from the peak of their fame in the mid to late 90s, Rob Thomas' vocals are particularly strong here as he sings: "When the slow parade went past, and it felt so good you knew it couldn't last". It was very re-affirming of my faith in the band: Matchbox Twenty aren't just another generic American rock band; they have a lot more substance than most.
Elsewhere there are some other great tracks, the standouts being second single `Overjoyed' which showcases Thomas' ability for writing heartfelt love-songs, and is well supported with minimal underscoring from the rest of the band. `English Town' is a truly ambitious track, with an orchestral section, akin to previous album track `Downfall' which made use of a gospel choir. Album closer `Sleeping at the Wheel' is another classic Matchbox Twenty song that could easily find its place on any of their albums.

The album does misfire on a couple of occasions though, when the transition into a poppier sound goes too far and the group sound like they're emulating Maroon 5 on the appauling `Put Your Hands Up'. `Our Song' falls into a similar trap, the chorus over-reaches the bounds of being catchy and becomes rather aggravating.

However despite these shortcomings the rest of the album is fairly consistent, and for each failed pop song there is a success, the aforementioned `She's So Mean' and the irresistible `Like Sugar' are both strong examples that when they get it right, they really get it right!

Overall it is a very good album, which marks the return of a great American band. I just hope that it won't be another ten year wait before their next album comes out!
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on 17 September 2012
My immediate thoughts on listening to this album were that it's not as bad as reviews are saying and, even when it's 'poppy', it's still clearly better than much of the current mainstream music. The reason for this is there was no obvious stand out moment: YOSLY was full of great moments such as Hang, Kody and Back To Good; Mad Season had Bed of Lies and Rest Stop, whilst MTYTYA's Unwell sticks in the memory long after first hearing it. This aside though, the album was still solid, with lyrics remaining strong and Rob Thomas' vocals as good as ever. 2 weeks in, I'm much more impressed.

This was probably a 3* album on first listen, but now, 2 weeks and many listens after release, it's easily 4*. The more you listen, the more you hear. Paul's drumming really drives a number of the songs along (not unlike on How Far We've Come) and Kyle's guitar playing is more mature, with some great riffs and subtleties which you don't pick up on first time around. It's also an album which sounds better louder, which is a good sign for upcoming tours, as this was clearly created for the live show.

There's no denying that there is more of an obvious underlying happiness to the album, and maybe this is being mistaken for 'rubbish', but there's more to this album if you give it time. I think people need to accept that Yourself Or Someone Like You was very much the Rob Thomas show after Tabitha's Secret (with 3am being from Don't Play With Matches),reflecting on travelling, growing up and tough times, whilst this is an album by a tight group of friends entering their forties, who are quite happy with life. There's nothing wrong with that and I'm enjoying it for exactly what it is. Consider this, if Rob Thomas can write a song about his mothers cancer and make it sound upbeat (3AM), then an album reflecting on lighter subject matter was always going to sound like this. It's not the classic MB20 CD you'll reach for in 5 years time, but you also won't skip it if it shuffles onto your iPod unexpectedly.

If your a fan, give this the time it deserves and then make your judgement. Stand outs for me are Parade, The Way (Kyle Cook vocals) and Sleeping at The Wheel.
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VINE VOICEon 29 September 2012
Didn't like this on first few listens - as reflected by some of the other reviews on here.

Been a fan of Matchbox since their debut and I think my problem was that my expectations were very high. Their last full studio album (More Than You Think You Are) is their best - an extremely consistent album with grand, technicolor pop moments that showcased the band to full potential.

This isn't quite there. From what I've read of the album's gestation, Rob, Paul, Kyle & Pookie travelled to each other's place (they live all around America) and wrote A LOT of songs. They have clearly picked a lot of gems from these, but overall the album, particularly early on, feels quite inconsistent. 'Put Your Hands Up' is too throwaway for me - it's a 'matchbox twenty do funky dance' moment and has none of the gentle and appropriate funk of 'She's So Real' from MTYTYA. 'Sugar' and 'radio' also aren't bad songs but fail to make much impact.

However, there are some clear and outstanding songs on here that rank up with the very best of Matchbox's songs. Opener 'parade' sets a fantastic opening tone while 'She's So Mean' is deliriously good fun, a basic chord progression thrown and twisted until it shimmers into heady pop. 'Overjoyed' is the kind of ballad that Matchbox Twenty do. 'English Town' is dark and moody while closer 'Sleeping At the Wheel' maybe the best song lyrically that Matchbox have written. Special mention must go to Paul Doucette's muscular and intuitive drumming - always an asset of the bands, it's propulsiveness gives a real energy to some of the songs,

Overall, the album has really grown on me. I think I was always going to be difficult to please and the fact that there are so many great moments is a testament to the band's continued creativity. The album was also Matchbox's first album to go to number 1 in America! So hopefully they won't take as long to make another album.
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on 11 September 2012
After ten years since their last proper album, many people would have wondered whether North could really compare to what in my opinion was their best album, More Than You Think You Are.

So is North any good? Well after a first listen to the album I think many Matchbox Twenty fans will feel disappointed. It is not that this is a bad album it is just that it is so different to previous efforts and reminded me in parts of Rob Thomas' first solo album Something To Be.

The album start starts with three great songs (Parade, She's So Mean, and Overjoyed), which are typical Matchbox Twenty sounding songs with a twist; the anger seems to have gone although it could be argued that to stay angry for sixteen years is a bit too much to believe.

From there on the album shifts to a more modern style of music which like I said will throw fans. Indeed it took me a few listens to the album to really start to love it which I think many people will not give it the chance which is sad because then you start to realise its endearing qualities.

Here are songs of not taking life for granted, songs of yearning, heartbreak and even one that tiptoes around Alzheimers disease. This is an album which shows how happy the band is and you can feel it in the music but it is a shame that it's more Mad Season than More Than You Think You Are or Yourself Or Someone Like You in that it's too pop and not enough rock.

In nutshell, I found this to be great album and still cannot stop listening but it took a long time to get there. Give it a chance and you will find an endearing album here waiting to shine.

Standout Tracks: Parade, Overjoyed, The Way, Sleeping At The Wheel, Waiting On A Train
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on 15 September 2012
It's been 10 long years since Matchbox Twenty released More Than You Think You Are, which in my opinion was their best album of all. For life-long fans of Rob Thomas and Matchbox Twenty, this is a wonderful collection of beautiful and catchy rock/pop songs. However, in the last ten years, their sound has moved quite dramatically from their rock roots to a more pop sound. Fans of their very earliest albums (Mad Season, Yourself or Someone Like You) may be somewhat disappointed with this new album. For those who've followed Rob Thomas' solo career over the last few years, you will find the album similar to that of his solo albums and the extra new tracks on Exile of Mainstream, their greatest hits album.

With Matchbox Twenty being one of my all time favourite bands, I love this album and will probably love anything that MB20/Rob Thomas release. There are some stunning tracks here that probably won't end up as singles, but are hauntingly beautiful all the same and are the most like the Matchbox Twenty older fans know and love. Songs like She's So Mean and Put Your Hands Up are the furthest from the traditional Matchbox sound and more comparable to that of Maroon 5 and other current pop acts.

It's a very mixed bag of songs but if you're a die-hard MB20 fan, you'll probably love everything on the album. Baring in mind that Matchbox Twenty's first album was released in 1996, it's understandable that in that time, music has changed and so have they. Their older albums are still the better of their discography but North is still deserving of a place in fan's hearts. If you're buying North as an existing MB20 fan, it'll likely never live up to their past albums, but I'd much rather have North after 10 years than no album at all!
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on 24 September 2012
I guess after ten years of a break between albums, fans had high hopes that this album would be something amazing. But they havent spent ten years making the album and really very high expectations were never gonna be met.

I dont think this album is as horrible as many reviewers are making it out. But I can agree they have delivered better.

The best way of putting it is- Did you like Rob's solo albums or did you think he sounded like he was chasing the mainstream/ pop charts too hard on those. I actually really liked both Rob's albums so I'm not adverse to the guys trying something different on their first group album in ten years. But if you couldnt accept the direction Rob took on his solo work, then I guess this album will be a disappointment and it's best to let this one pass you by.

It does start off with that good old rock sound of old on opener Parade. It's a pretty solid opener.

She's so mean - to me, I dont find it any more poppy than a song like Disease sounded in 2002. It's quite a catchy number.

Put your hands up and Like Sugar are probably the more poppy sounding tracks on the album but they arent horrible .

Overjoyed, I will, Sleeping at the wheel, I believe in everything , straight for this life, the way are the stand outs for me

but i wouldnt write this album off , unless you are looking for a total rock album.
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on 28 September 2012
As a MB20 fan of around 13 years, I was eagerly waiting for the release of this album and to be honest on the first few listens I wasn't entirely sure that I liked this one. Initially, it felt a bit like MB20 had followed the Maroon 5 route and gone a bit too far away from the mainly guitar oriented, rock based sound that puts them in my taste bracket, however the more I listen to North the more I like it. Pretty much every track is a stonker (and great live judging by the iTunes Festival showing) and even tracks that I didn't think I liked at all at first (Put Your Hands Up felt a bit Disco to me) have really, really grown to be favourites. Its all a matter of opinion of course, but theres only really Straight for This Life thats doesn't really grab me, all the other tracks are right up there with the best of MB20 and Rob, Kyle, Paul and Brian have really delivered in spades. The fact that it went straight to No1 in the States should tell you that this is an Album you need in your life!!! I just hope that a full UK Tour is in the offing soon.
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on 9 September 2012
Having liked MB20 since Yourself Or Someone Like You I pre ordered North on Amazon and looked forward to its release.Reading some of the reviews before it arrived I began to fear the worst - How wrong could I have been. Most of the songs could easily find a place on the first 2 albums (the best they have released). There are a couple of songs that disappoint namely Put Your Hands Up which is well below standard and doesnt fit in at all and I Will which passes me by on every listen. Stand out tracks for me are Parade,Overjoyed,How Long,The Way and Radio. Some tracks do try something different but in a MB20 way and for me it works. Its obvious that alot of care and thought has gone into this album.
I always judge an album in that if I had heard it before i bought it, would I still buy it - with North, its a definate yes - a welcome return to form after the release of More than... and the new stuff on Exile... One small criticism is that there isnt much 'Deluxe' in the Deluxe edition - 3 extra songs but a very poor information booklet inside.
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