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CD Reviews: Matchbox Twenty
Matchbox Twenty: More Than You Think You Are
January 2003
By: Linda Spielman
album cover of Matchbox Twenty's More Than You Think You Are

Matchbox Twenty finished off 2002 with the November release of their third album entitled More Than You Think You Are. The mega-platinum and ever so fan accommodating bunch of guys have proven many of the critics and music masses wrong by putting together an album that is much more comparable to their first album Yourself Or Someone Like You.

Like most bands, the pressure to produce something as musically successful as their first album and dodge the "sophomore slump" was definitely present when the band went back into the studio for their second album Mad Season. Although the album produced such radio friendly tracks as If You're Gone and Bent, it seemed apparent that the band was trying too hard at times to achieve the same level of success and critical musical praise. Band infighting over creative control, the realization that the party life was not all it was cracked up to be, and the process of generally maturing as musicians and people might have led Mad Season into a somewhat less focused album content-wise. The vibe that "we have something to prove" seemed to preside, leaving gaps in the album with very few of those catchy, radio friendly songs.

A much more focused group returned to the studio in 2001 for their third album. With producer Matt Serletic at the helm again, the band collaborated as a whole to bring every note of More Than You Think You Are to fruition. As per usual, most of the tracks were written by Rob Thomas, with the addition of band member and Pittsburgh native Paul Doucette penning Could I Be You. Through the collective brainstorming of all of the members for the conception of each song, the album recaptured the magic of Yourself Or Someone Like You. Still reaching to expand their musical chops, this album blends a variety of styles into Matchbox Twenty signature songs. The album's first release, Disease, is classic Matchbox Twenty with strong guitar-based melodies & infectious lyrics. Hand Me Down is a favorite track amongst both the band and fans. The song's heartbroken vibe--- one almost everyone could relate to at sometime or another--- of feeling used and discarded by someone we cared about is the signature ballad of the album. Other surprises such as Downfall, which incorporates a gospel choir and So Real, which has a quirky, fun feel to it reminiscent of the band Smash Mouth, appear near the end of the album. The album itself gets sluggish towards the middle, but picks up in pace towards the end. There is definitely more focus on guitarist's Kyle Cook's amazing talents throughout this album. And, while there are few albums that are amazing from start to finish, for the majority, More Than You Think You Are is a strong album in both musicality and lyrical content. Each member brings to the table their own musical talents and personalities which shine through clearly. But, if one thing is for certain, it is that on this album Matchbox Twenty obviously wasn't out to try and top any past successes or prove their worth to anyone but themselves, which alone can be a form of success. The result is yet another bare bones, lyrically sound, and melody-driven album--- which is exactly what made the band so successful to begin with back in 1996.