Matchbox Twenty, Eminem Top Week's Pop Releases

Also due in stores are discs from En Vogue, Lucy Pearl.

New albums from Matchbox Twenty and rapper Eminem highlight this week's new pop releases.

But they'll have heavy competition from the R&B front, with fresh LPs from En Vogue and Lucy Pearl — featuring ex–En Vogue singer Dawn Robinson — also hitting shelves.

Like Matchbox Twenty's 1996 debut, Yourself or Someone Like You, Mad Season by Matchbox Twenty features production by Matt Serletic. Its first single, "Bent," is #22 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

Matchbox Twenty singer Rob Thomas, who collaborated with Santana on the Grammy-winning hit "Smooth," said the album reflects the three and a half years of road work he and his bandmates had on their side going into the recording.

"When we made the first record ... it was like, 'OK, we're Matchbox Twenty — what does Matchbox Twenty sound like?' " he said. "This record, to us, was the sound of five guys at one time, making the same noise."

Eminem Continues To Push Limits

Eminem offers the 16-track The Marshall Mathers LP, the follow-up to last year's triple-platinum The Slim Shady LP. The album features tracks produced by the rapper, F.B.T. Productions, DJ Head, Mark the 45 King and Dr. Dre, who also is the executive producer. Its first single, "The Real Slim Shady" (RealAudio excerpt), is #28 on Radio & Records' urban singles chart.

"I think my first [major-label] album opened a lot of doors for me to push the freedom of speech to the limit," Eminem said earlier this year. "I feel like [I'm now able] to say whatever I want to say."

Lucy Pearl — who include Tony Toni Toné's Raphael Saadiq and A Tribe Called Quest's Ali Shaheed Muhammad in addition to Robinson — mix hip-hop, R&B and rock on their self-titled debut. Meanwhile, En Vogue's Masterpiece Theater is an aggressive pop-soul album that draws as much on classical music as it does on funk.

"I think it's great, because it's like more hype," En Vogue singer Maxine Jones said about perceived competition between the albums by her group and Lucy Pearl. "It gives people something to talk about on both sides. I just hope we both do really well."

Lucy Pearl includes the single "Dance Tonight" (RealAudio excerpt), a slinky call to the club floor that appeared on the "Love and Basketball" soundtrack. But the album also features the playful '70s soul groove "LaLa," the Tony Toni Toné–esque "Can't Stand Your Mother" and the rocker "Hollywood."

" 'Hollywood' surprised all of us," Robinson said. "I mean, that's from Ali, who's got a hip-hop background, and here he comes with this vibrant track that's got a rock edge."

A live compilation from the second annual Family Values tour will hit stores Tuesday, featuring ragers from Korn, Limp Bizkit, Filter, Primus, Staind, the Crystal Method and the rap duo Method Man and Redman.

Henley Takes A Look 'Inside'

Eagles drummer/singer Henley returns with Inside Job, his first solo album since 1989's The End of the Innocence. The album, which features the single "Taking You Home," juxtaposes introspective tunes about marriage and fatherhood against skeptical looks at the world around him.

"Someone once told me that there are two types of work," Henley said of the album's title track. "There is visible work, and there is invisible work. Most of us spend a lot of time doing the visible work, which has to do with exterior things, but a great many of us, myself included, up to now, haven't spent a lot of time doing the invisible work, which is the work inside ourselves.

"I think we all need to pause once in a while and do a little self-examination."

Rapper Sauce Money, who wrote such hits as Puff Daddy's "I'll Be Missing You," makes his solo debut with Middle Finger U.

"It's that smash-mouth football, real rugged kind of sound, with aggressive lyrics," Sauce Money (born Tony Gaither) recently said of the album.

A Perfect Circle, featuring Tool singer Maynard James Keenan, will arrive with Mer de Noms, featuring the single "Judith." In addition to Keenan, the band features former Tool guitar tech Billy Howerdel as well as bassist Paz Lenchantin, drummer Josh Freese (Vandals, Guns N' Roses) and guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen.

The soundtrack to the film "Road Trip" also will hit shelves, featuring tracks by Kid Rock, Ween, Twisted Sister, Run-D.M.C. and the Eels.