Album review

Matchbox Twenty :
More Than You Think You Are

Atlantic / Melisma

Matchbox Twenty : More Than You Think You AreThere are a number of flavours of US rock that just fail to translate into UK chart positions despite record companies' best efforts: 3 Doors Down, Saliva, Dave Matthews Band, and most inexplicably Matchbox Twenty. Why most inexplicably? Because Rob Thomas' crew deal in an modern AOR sound which at times closely resembles that of housewife favourites Savage Garden, who owned the UK charts a few short years ago.
    Okay, to be fair, lead singles with lines like, "Can you help me, I'm bent" in didn't do Matchbox Twenty any favours, but their growing live stature over here suggests that it's only going to be a matter of time until this lot break through properly.

More Than You Think You Are is Matchbox Twenty's third long-player, and follows on from 2000's superb Mad Season CD. There are few surprises here, but this band are capable of a classy brand of guitar-led power pop that few do better, so it would be a shame not to play to their strengths.
    Feel is the sure-footed big-riffed opener, and suggests that Matchbox Twenty might be attempting a heavier sound . . . that's until the Mick Jagger co-penned Disease slides in like Smooth part two. Sheer pop, and a little bland for these tired ears if the truth be told.
    The mandolin melody of Unwell draws you in to what is undoubtedly one of More Than You Think You Are's highlights. "I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell. I know, right now you can't tell. But stay a while and maybe then you'll see, a different side of me." It may all be a little slushy - a sound way too much like Savage Garden - but it's a damn fine song.
    The last prize on this disc is hidden right at the end. The Difference is a huge radio-friendly ballad like the best bits of Matchbox Twenty's last two albums. Time will tell, but if any track here wedges itself at the the top of US radio rotation, then this is going to be it.

Judged against Matchbox Twenty's back catalogue, More Than You Think You Are falls short - it's just not as consistent or as impressive as Mad Season. Judged against what else you're likely to find out there this month . . . well, there are certainly going to be worse ways to spend your money.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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