Acoustic Sounds

Matchbox 20

Yourself Or Someone Like You



Matchbox 20 'Yourself Or Someone Like You'

Label: Analogue Productions / Atlantic / Lava

Produced By: Matt Serletic

Engineered By: Jeff Tomei

Mixed By: Greg Archilla and Matt Serletic

Mastered By: Ryan K. Smith at Sterling Sound

By: Malachi Lui

February 20th, 2024





Analogue Productions Reissues Matchbox 20’s ‘Yourself Or Someone Like You’

A lavish reissue for a pop rock megahit

Perhaps the biggest reissue surprise in Analogue Productions’ Atlantic Records 75th anniversary partnership is Matchbox 20’s 1996 debut album Yourself Or Someone Like You. My first thoughts were why? Does anyone still listen to Matchbox 20? Or, at least enough to buy this album as a $60, 45rpm, 180g double LP cut by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound?

Such skepticism is fair. Matchbox 20 never got much critical praise, and they’re well past their hit-making days. But beyond their heavy rotation in supermarkets across America—in that regard, second only to Mariah Carey—Matchbox 20 maintains a more devoted fanbase than you might think. They released a new album last year (their first since 2012), tour semi-regularly when frontman Rob Thomas isn’t otherwise busy, and a recent vinyl box set of their first four albums sold through its run of 5000 copies. Last year, Yourself Or Someone Like You's second single "Push" was used (in a less than flattering light) in the Barbie movie, with "Push (Sped Up Version)" sent to streaming services in an attempt for TikTok virality. And while no longer an omnipresent chart and radio/MTV mainstay, this debut album is RIAA-certified diamond (10 million plus copies sold in America alone) and original vinyl pressings sell for around $300. Thus, it’s a perfectly reasonable choice for this AP/Atlantic series, especially since audiophile labels need to diversify their catalogs before their entire existing clientele dies out.

Matchbox 20 originated in Orlando, Florida as a band called Tabitha’s Secret. That band didn’t go very far, though a couple of Atlantic A&R guys kept a close eye on their frontman, Rob Thomas. Producer Matt Serletic offered the band a management contract that included a record deal with Atlantic, though Tabitha’s Secret immediately imploded over intra-band business disagreements (which later turned into a lawsuit). As such, Thomas kept his old bandmates Paul Doucette (drums) and Brian Yale (bass), recruited guitarists Kyle Cook and Adam Gaynor, and signed a deal as Matchbox 20 (“20” changed to “Twenty” before the second album, 2000's more ambitious albeit uneven Mad Season).

Yourself Or Someone Like You barely sold at first, but it slowly gained regional traction and soon became the megahit we know today. It’s no masterpiece, but it’s held up better than most ‘90s post-grunge pop rock albums, mostly because Rob Thomas is a legitimately good pop songwriter. Though his angsty growl on this first record gets a bit more grating than his smoother vocals later on, he sings with undeniable conviction. He’s not an especially profound lyricist, but whether writing about domestic violence (“Push”), alcoholism (“Kody”), or his alcoholic mother’s battle with cancer (“3 AM,” the Tabitha’s Secret song that prompted the aforementioned lawsuit), he’s thoroughly competent. Similarly, the chord progressions and musicianship are simple but effective, the production slick but not anodyne. The album loses steam in the second half, yet the opening run of singles is beyond good enough to compensate. The rest of Matchbox 20/Twenty’s discography is similarly decent and fairly consistent; I’d argue that the band’s third record, 2002’s More Than You Think You Are, is musically just as good if not better than Yourself Or Someone Like You.

“We would really like to have [Yourself Or Someone Like You] remastered, maybe remixed, because even if the songs hold up, I think the sound quality doesn’t quite hold up the way that new records do, and it would be nice to hear them reimagined in that way,” Rob Thomas told The AV Club in 2016. He’s right: the original CD was bass-shy, somewhat bloated in the lower mids, and harsh in the high midrange where the guitars were. A 96kHz/24bit hi-res download/streaming release a few years ago had a more pleasantly balanced EQ profile, except with less headroom than the CD. (There’s also a 2017 mass-market LP reissue cut and pressed at GZ Media, presumably from that 96/24 remaster.)

This new Analogue Productions 45rpm reissue isn’t exactly revelatory, but it’s much better than any previous editions. Instrumental separation is much better, bass has greater texture and stability, there’s more space around Rob Thomas’ vocals, and the lower mids don’t cast an opaque mud over everything else. It’s still a very bright mix, but it’s significantly easier to listen to; I assume this is what the original CD was meant to sound like, except A/D converters sounded glassier in 1996.

Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound cut this 2LP set from 1/2” tape, though was Yourself Or Someone Like You actually recorded and mixed on analog tape? Smith says that the tape boxes had no indication of anything digital, but it’s not out of the question. Given how it sounds, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some sort of digital step before the master tape. It doesn’t have as much depth as many all-analog recordings, and it’s a bit more clinical than ideal. (However, ‘90s production trends definitely contribute to the latter aspect—maybe there was some SSL gear involved?) Regardless, the logo on the back cover stating “100% All-Analog: Mastered and cut to lacquer from the original master tape” is still true; the mastering process here was indeed all-analog, and in this context, that’s all that matters. No one is trying to mislead you.

As expected, this Analogue Productions reissue comes in a laminated Stoughton tip-on gatefold, though someone forgot to remove the original “Digitally Edited by Don C. Tyler” credit as CD indexing/editing is irrelevant here! The QRP 180g pressing is flat and mostly quiet, save for some surface noise on the acoustic closer “Hang.” Overall, this isn’t an essential album nor will it be played to death at hi-fi shows, but if you like Matchbox 20, this is by far the most dynamic, well-balanced presentation of this album. Worth $60? That’s your decision, but rest assured that it’d be the last copy you’d ever need, until the inevitable remix in another decade or two. (There’s also a $35 hybrid SACD of Ryan Smith’s new remaster, release date TBA.)

Music Specifications

Catalog No: AAPA 031-45A

Pressing Plant: Quality Record Pressings

Speed/RPM: 45

Weight: 180 grams

Size: 12"

Channels: Stereo

Source: 1/2" Tape

Presentation: Multi LP


  • 2024-02-20 09:08:29 AM

    PeterG wrote:

    With no interest in straight pop, I have little interesting in buying the record, but I have been wanting to understand more, in large part for the reasons you mention. Thanks for the excellent review, my curiosity is sated

  • 2024-02-20 10:42:10 AM

    Jon Burrows wrote:

    What's fascinating to me about the Atlantic 75th campaign is how much Chad loves Foreigner but not Aretha Franklin.

    • 2024-02-20 11:22:28 AM

      Will wrote:

      Did Mr K say that?

    • 2024-02-20 07:09:58 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      The choices were a collaboration between Chad Kassem and Atlantic CEO Craig Kallman. Not sure why on Aretha, but it's not because Chad's not a fan!

    • 2024-02-20 10:09:53 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      Chad has tried to get 4 Aretha albums but so far no luck. Atlantic doesn’t control this.

  • 2024-02-20 11:29:33 AM

    Will wrote:

    Thanks for the review - as a result I have enjoyed watching a few YouTube clips of them, which I probably wouldn't have. Very catchy rock . No shame in liking this and Bruckner, Trane, CSN etc.....

  • 2024-02-20 10:12:54 PM

    michael plaut wrote:

    excellent review as always....I think generous giving this album a 7 though.....its a guilty pleasure at best....7 if you are a friend of the band or a relative....5 for the rest of us is probably right grade for something this mediocre.....we can only thank a higher power that white lion did not make the atlantic 75 audiophile 45rpm series

    • 2024-02-21 12:55:00 AM

      Malachi Lui wrote:

      i've few, if any, "guilty pleasures" when it comes to music. i like what i like and that's that! and while i said that 'yourself or someone like you' isn't a masterpiece, it's still a decent record that's far beyond most of that era's MTV post-grunge pop rock dreck (some of which is seriously awful - this thankfully isn't).

      • 2024-02-21 08:11:32 PM

        Jim Shue wrote:

        This LP is more like an 8/10. As for MTV Post grunge pop - sure Dude - whatever. Where did you read about this time period?

    • 2024-02-21 08:08:02 PM

      Jim Shue wrote:

      That's like your opinion Man...

    • 2024-02-22 01:39:16 PM

      GeoWisdom wrote:

      Hey, not everyone wants the 400th version of whatever Jazz album is audiophile flavor of the month. I wish AP would do more albums like this one.

  • 2024-02-22 01:42:25 PM

    GeoWisdom wrote:

    Great review Malachi. I wish more modern albums would get the AP treatment. I know with their target audience that I shouldn't hold my breath, but I'd scoop up more stuff like this in a heartbeat. Don't even care if it's not sourced/recorded analog, I'm just tired of substandard pressings of my favorite pop/rock/hip-hop albums.

    • 2024-04-14 09:29:25 PM

      Andrew84 wrote:

      Totally agree. There are way more people who are into this music than Jazz music. I mean I like some jazz but it's just not something that a large subset of the population would ever be into. I've often wondered why the audiophile record labels push jazz so hard and if I had to guess I would say it's something to do with the jazz master tapes being easier to get ahold of and utilize as opposed to more popular genres like grunge and pop/rock, etc. For him to say that Matchbox 20 never got much critical acclaim is asinine. That band was massive back in the day and got PLENTY of critical acclaim.

  • 2024-04-14 09:21:09 PM

    Andrew84 wrote:

    Why have such a snooty attitude about pop/rock? Matchbox 20 is a great band that still sounds amazing to this day. They didn't burn out and fade away like so many bands of the era. You should be analyzing the record sound itself anyway and not your personal feelings toward a particular genre of music. You kind of wasted this review. I mean everyone isn't a jazz freak!