Top 10 Overproduced Matchbox Twenty Moments I Enjoy in Spite of Myself
Matchbox Twenty tickets go on sale today at noon -- the show's July 26 at Comerica Theatre -- which means that this weekend is a time for you to reflect on whether, why, and how much you love America's most indestructible post-grunge band.
For me those answers are yes, because they're so overproduced and they don't care, and more than I used to be willing to admit. No mid-90s success put the "post" in "post-grunge" quite like Matchbox Twenty; two years after Kurt Cobain's death, they combined alt-rock volume and angst with 80s-rock polish, and four albums later every song sounds like grunge recorded by Phil Ramone inside an airlock. I'm supposed to dislike that, I think, but I don't -- I want to bounce a quarter off that guitar tone in "If You're Gone," and I will, and I will.
Here, then, are the Top 10 Overproduced Matchbox Twenty Moments I'm going to silently hope they can replicate live. (Does Matt Serletic tour with them?)
10. She's So Mean - Drum/Vocals Hiccup (1:18)
"She's So Mean" was Matchbox Twenty's first single since the most recent Death of Rock, and I have to think they took that as a challenge. Despite a big hook, lyrics that hit the girl-who-wants-to-be-considered-a-bad-girl-kind-of demographic bullseye, and an updated version of the usual gloss--how many times do you think he rehearsed that "Oh!"--it didn't quite take off.
My guess why: Matchbox Twenty can never go full-crossover. They can make a rock song that sounds like "Moves Like Jagger," but they can't make a pop song that sounds like a rock song.
9. 3AM - Just The Whole Jammy 90s Veneer
My working hypothesis is that most of the songs on Yourself or Something Like You sound equal parts 1996 and 1986, but "3AM" is a time capsule -- this is full-on Hootie-and-the-Phish-Crows approachable-guy rock.
Except that, because Matt Serletic is producing it, it sounds like Matchbox Twenty working to isolate and perfect that formula after surreptitiously discovering it at a state fair. That's actually 150 acoustic-guitar overdubs you're hearing under the verse.
8. Disease - Angry-Sounding Intro Riff
I cannot begin to explain how fitting it is that, seeking to Get Back to Rock Basics, Rob Thomas cowrote a song with 2002 Mick Jagger. The result, inevitably, was a slightly sneery Matchbox Twenty song with a lead guitar on loan from the Bon Jovi library.
These guys just aren't nearly as threatening as they are catchy; when they try it they become the tough rock band that would dance-fight another tough rock band in a suspiciously glammed-up Michael Jackson video.