The Band That (Thankfully) Won't Go Away
I'd like to begin with a request. That anyone who hasn't heard anything the nearly legendary Hanson brothers have produced since say, that song from the 1990's that I refuse to name, (because every other reviewer of this newest album, The Walk, will drop it along with the same snide remark they were using ten years ago), would immediately open iTunes and at the very least sample the band's last two releases, This Time Around (2000) and Underneath (2004). Go ahead; I'm giving you time and no one's judging you here. I just finished signing up for the Hanson.net newsletter so…..
Impressed? Good. Now maybe you'll take me seriously. For some reason Hanson is a touchy subject. People are either strangely hateful of the now married off and running their own record label (3CG) brothers or alarmingly protective. I bet if we dig deep enough hurt feelings, high school, and someone girlfriend having a crush on "the middle one" have something to do with it. But, that was a long time ago and we've all grow up a little bit since then, right? Ok, probably not, but there's no reason we need to plaster Hanson to the 90's, which has unfortunately become a genre of its own.
The Walk starts off with "Great Divide", looping African children's voices as background (singing that flows in and out of the entire album) and while it might not be the best creative decision, there's no getting over the electric guitar riffs and Taylor Hanson's signature "oh's and yeah's". By the fourth cut, "Georgia" you'll be typing your name into the little yellow Hanson.net newsletter box too. So the song's title's been used one hundred times over but I dare you not to walk around your kitchen singing "I don't wanna let you go / and I don't wanna lose you slowly." If you're a strong willed one, maybe, but there's no way you'll make it through "Running Man" without friending the band on MySpace (myspace.com/hansonmusic).
Comparing this album's ballads to the well-written, smartly produced cuts on This Time Around (check out "Song to Sing") and Underneath's title track, The Walk falls short in some ways and proves itself in others. "One More", a slow dance of a song, grows on you but lyrically doesn't catch up to the piano based title track or the UK released single, "Go". Again with the children on backing vocals but, "Blue Sky" gives listeners yet another reason to drive with their windows rolled down and their left hands drumming on the driver's side door.
The album's downfalls settle in the "neh neh neh"'s on "Tearing it Down", which teeter on the edge of annoying, and "Your Illusion", where the brothers make the head-in-hands mistake of rhyming "conclusion" with "illusion", forming an obvious no-go.
It goes without saying that Hanson fans already have The Walk on pre-order, but I highly encourage anyone with any sort of pop/rock itch to buy a copy (oh, and the previous two releases). Your friends may laugh at you, but your self esteem will have already been drastically encouraged by the internalized harmonicas and willing vocals of those boys who wrote that song in the 90's and are (thankfully) still around.
CD Info and Links
Hanson - The Walk