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Picks and Pans Main: Music

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Matchbox Twenty

North |


The last decade in pop has seen no shortage of new stars-Gaga! Kanye! Rebecca Black?-but the guys in Matchbox Twenty, who defined (or some say ruined) rock radio in the ’90s with hits like “3 AM” and “Push,” want to prove they’re still viable. So on their first album in 10 years, Rob Thomas and crew play catch-up with a set that digs into everything: gorgeous ballads (“Overjoyed”), synthed-out pop (“Put Your Hands Up”), even white-boy-style ska (“Radio”). While it seems scatterbrained, with the slick touch of longtime producer Matt Serletic, they show they’re old pros at the lost art of record making. Sure, Thomas’s romantic confessionals can be corny, but the buffed-to-a-sheen ballad “The Way” is a genuinely aching ode to failed love. And when he croons, “When the music’s over … the song stays in your head” on “Parade,” he might as well be talking about his own band’s gift for hooks.