Rob Thomas

...Something to Be (Melisma/Atlantic)

If, at any point since 1996, you've heard a generic quasi-rock song on Hot AC radio but were unable to figure out who was performing it, the act in question was probably Matchbox Twenty. The band has built its career on tunes such as "Push" --tracks that are unobjectionable, but easier to forget than the proper way to solve algebraic equations. That's a commercially rewarding, if vapid, formula, and on his first solo album, Matchbox frontman Rob Thomas sticks with it.

Thomas's ballads and mid-tempo pieces demonstrate all the depth of a tabletop, and his attempt to come across like a swingin' soul man on "Streetcorner Symphony," addressed to "my sisters and my brothers of every different color," is a bigger flop than Gigli. Fortunately for him, disc-starters such as "This Is How a Heart Breaks" and "Lonely No More" are catchy in a Maroon 5 kinda way, and won't offend the average driver when they squawk from his in-dash sound system.

Granted, few of these folks will remember the ditties afterward or have the slightest clue that Thomas was behind them. The invisible pop star strikes again.

 
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