More Than You Think You Are
our score: 2.5 out of 5.0
If the late
90's and early 00's had an award for the band most able to milk
its recordings for popular radio singles, matchbox twenty would
have been a strong contender. Over two albums the band managed
to put forth at least seven singles with unbelievably strong radio
staying power, a rare feat for a group of Floridian post-grunge
rockers. And, as if this popularity amongst the masses wasn't
enough, lead singer Rob Thomas's unavoidable work on Santana's
1999 comeback single "Smooth" sure was.
In late 2002
matchbox twenty returned once again with their third studio outing,
More Than You Think You Are, a record which finds the
band struggling to discover just what it is they are really trying
to do with their music.
On the album's
first single, "Disease" (co-written with none other
than Mick Jagger), the band smartly nods to his success with "Smooth"
with a leading riff unmistakably similar to the Spanish guitar
that barraged the airwaves so much in '99. It rocks far harder
than anything the band's put to radio before, but not so much
as the album's blaring opener "Feel."
with these instances of "rockness," the most notable
change with More Than You Think You Are is the band's
attempts to not be pigeonholed as an arena rock band.
This is made abundantly clear on the album's third track, "Bright
Lights" - a song that opens like it's Elton John and ends
like it's The Bealtes, and manages to sound just like a matchbox
twenty song somewhere in between.
There are instances
of this reach for credibility among their critics throughout the
album. "Unwell" features a catchy banjo intro, but then
falls into the formulaic "cut out everything but the vocals
then bring it all back in for the chorus" that's worked so
well for matchbox twenty in the past.
And this is
where the biggest problems with the album truly come into play.
Sure, matchbox twenty has never been hugely popular with the critic
crowd, but its fans have never felt alienated. Not that they're
likely to be alienated with More Than You Think... either,
but in the end what we're left with is an arena rock band trying
not to sound like an arena rock band, which ends up sounding like
an arena rock band that doesn't want to sound like an arena rock
what matchbox twenty's been so good at for so long, and while
it's usually great to see a band trying to move on from where
it's been, sometimes it's best to just build on from what you
know. If you're going for the "credibility" route, you
need to find your own niche - not remake what's made other bands
definitely have it in them to make another great matchbox twenty
album, something they can really call their own. Just take a listen
to "All I Need" or the sure-fire emotional hit single
"Bright Lights" and you'll be convinced once again that
this is a band who knows how to make a great pop rock song. The
only problem is, this time around they lost a bit of who they
are along the way.
liked More Than You Think You Are...