Top positive review
A Satisfying Return After A Lengthy Hiatus
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!