Matchbox Twenty
"Yourself Or Someone Like You"

1st August 2005
reviewer: Chris
rating: 3 out of 5
published by: Atlantic
released: 13th April 1998
  1. Real World
  2. Long Day
  3. 3 AM
  4. Push
  5. Girl Like That
  6. Back 2 Good
  7. Damn
  8. Argue
  9. Kody
  10. Busted
  11. Shame
  12. Hang

You may not realise it, but Matchbox Twenty’s debut album is an important moment in modern rock. A strong claim I know, but the band were part of a new wave, marking a point where mainstream American rock became, dare I say, more ordinary. Since then, American mainstream rock has been dominated by a number of bands producing classic sounding rock wrapped in 90’s high production values. For many music purists, the decline in American mainstream rock is, amongst others, Matchbox Twenty’s fault.

Which is slightly unfair, as whilst Yourself Or Someone Like You is by no means a classic, the fact that it found a wide audience is not overly surprising. The album contains all the hallmarks of alt-pop-rock, with nearly every song dominated by Rob Thomas’ vocals, which turn out to be surprisingly soulful at times. This is a mixed blessing: whilst Thomas’s song writing has since flourished and improved, Yourself or Someone Like You shows all the signs of a confused young songwriter. On ‘Long Day’ and ‘Push’, he spends the time blaming everyone else for life’s problems, often sounding abusive, and sometimes a little whiny. Later on, tracks like ‘Kody’ feel like uninspired filler, finding Thomas working hard to recreate the best moments of the album all over again.

The upside to this classic alt-pop-rock blueprint is that when Thomas’ lyrics work the album truly does soar. The melancholy ‘3am’, and the angstful highs and lows of the self-loathing ‘Back 2 Good’ show a band who know exactly what they are doing. On ‘Girl Like That’, Kyle Cook’s guitar work is given more prominence, playing off Thomas’ vocals perfectly, whilst the album opens and closes well with ‘Real World’ and ‘Hang’ respectively.

Yourself or Someone Like You is a record scattered with high moments, but ultimately, is let down by being too ordinary everywhere else. Luckily, those high moments are enough to sustain the album, although whether they are enough to justify the band’s popularity is arguable. Some may find the album too plain, whilst others will lap up the easy-to-listen-to, if sometimes generic, tunes. For those willing to be less critical, Yourself or Someone Like You showcases a band knowing what they want to do, but not quite knowing how.

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