Top positive review
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EXILE OVER: MATCHBOX IS BACK!!!
on October 17, 2007
Way back when in 1996, lead singer Rob Thomas, drummer Paul Doucette, and bass player Brian Yale, all former members of Orlando rock group Tabitha's Secret, hooked up with two local guitarists Kyle Cook and Adam Gaynor to form Matchbox 20 (later replaced with "twenty" spelled out to help distinguish the band from the number frenzy taking place with band names). The resultant group would go on to take over the airwaves and sell millions of albums worldwide. After the release of their third album, "More Than You Think You Are," the members of matchbox twenty decided to take a break and focus on their own interests. Rob Thomas went on to have an extremely successful solo career with hit songs like "Lonely No More," "Ever the Same," and "Little Wonders." Kyle Cook went on to record an EP with his other project The New Left. Paul Doucette recorded tracks for a yet to be released solo album under the moniker of The Break and Repair Method. Adam Gaynor parted ways with the band and began writing music for various musical scores. Brian Yale worked on his golf game.
As 2007 opened, the reunion of matchbox twenty was anything but a certainty. With Rob Thomas selling over 2 million copies of his solo album "Something to Be...", doubt began to swirl as to whether or not a matchbox reunion would be something Thomas would even be willing to entertain financially. But true to his word, Thomas returned to the group and in the Spring of 2007, entered the studio with the other three remaining members in hopes of recording one final swan song to be included on a greatest hits package.
With the goal of creating something new and unique, matchbox hired producer Steve Lillywhite, someone they had never worked with in the past, to help them complete this final song. Once in the studio though, the new dynamic of the group lead to such a strong feeling of creativity that matchbox decided to not just record one song, but record enough tracks for an EP that would be packaged along with their greatest hits set. With Doucette replacing Gaynor on rhythm guitar, matchbox twenty crafted six songs with songwriting credits given to the band as a whole, not just to Thomas as was customary in the past.
The result of these unique recordings is "Exile on Mainstream," six tracks that sound distinctly different from anything matchbox twenty has ever done in the past, packaged together with the 11 singles that matchbox twenty released from their three previous albums. The six new songs play out as follows:
1. How Far We've Come- 9/10
A catchy uptempo number that is already blazing up the charts. It takes some time to adjust to this being matchbox twenty, but once the listener gets past the surprisingly searing chorus, this song becomes a catchy toe tapper that will most definitely be a great song to hear live.
2. I'll Believe You When- 8/10
A solid tune with a positive uptempo beat and well placed background vocals.
3. All Your Reasons- 9/10
I'll admit, the backing vocals at the beginning of this song on first listen were annoying, but after a good deal of listens, they become less intrusive. This song is another uptempo number that is extremely catchy and easy to relate to.
4. These Hard Times- 10/10
Straight from the proverbial matchbox canon, this is by far the best song on the album, and in my opinion, rivals great songs like "Back 2 Good" and "Bright Lights" as one of the best matchbox twenty songs of all time. This mid-tempo ballad is beautifully written with Rob Thomas' emotions pouring out with every word. A sure fire second single, destined to go to number one on multiple radio formats.
5. If I Fall- 7/10
The weakest song on the album. This song just lacks any memorable feel to it.
6. Can't Let You Go- 9/10
A beautiful ballad that can be likened to another matchbox album closer "The Difference." This song is sure to make the female fans melt in concert.
As far as the greatest hits go, I don't think a review is needed because those songs speak for themselves. Most will recognize all of the songs with the possible exception of first single "Long Day," which was spun mostly on alternative stations before "Push" garnered mainstream success for the band.
While "Exile on Mainstream" is not the full album of new material that many matchbox fans were hoping for, it is an extremely creative work that brings about a promise of more. After matchbox wraps up its tour in the first quarter of 2008, Rob Thomas plans to spend the rest of the year recording his second solo album and has estimated that 2009 will be the year we get a completely new matchbox twenty album.
In the meantime, we all can enjoy these wonderfully unique new songs and take a moment to reflect on the solid body of work that these boys have created over the years. In the words of Thomas in "These Hard Times," "say goodbye, these days are gone." With a laundry list of accolades in the rear view mirror, is it possible that the road matchbox twenty is currently on will lead to even greater success? You may want to call me "Unwell," but I do believe the "Bright Lights" will continue to shine even brighter on this talented quartet.