I have a confession to make. At the age of five, I was a member of the official Hanson fan club. Cringes all round, some may say, however I adored them, and their floppy ’90’s hair! Ironically, the fan club failed to reply before the band had fallen into the abyss of fickle pop obscurity, and the fans had moved on to the next big thing in the ever revolving pop world.
However, somewhat surprisingly, the band – made up of Hanson brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac – are now on their sixth studio album, after recently celebrating their 21’st anniversary as a band. Entitled Anthem, the title is rather apt, as a great number of the songs do carry an essence of anthemic proportions. This band have a knack for creating a catchy pop song – after all, they rode to fame on the crest of the wave of the timeless jam MMMBop – and the content on this album is of no exception.
The first track on the album, Fired Up, is rockier than can be expected, especially for those who may not have encountered the band since their extreme youth; an addictive guitar riff carries the song, which proves to be somewhat of a mission statement for the band’s perseverance, declaring ‘You better run and hide, coz we’re about to bring the fire’. You Can’t Stop Us Now carries a similar vein across a bluesy riff, with corresponding lyrics such as ‘Our time has come and you’re standing in the way’; fighting talk, it appears that this is war.
These songs aside, as the album progresses, you begin to move into what can only be described as more expected territory. Many of the songs carry a mainstream radio rock vibe – which is by no means a bad thing when done well. One such example of this is the funky I’ve Got No Soul (and the band aren’t afraid to use theirs apparently); it is one of the best songs on the album and would be a great future single. Talking of singles, recent single Get The Girl Back is also a pop hit, with a rather Mowtown vibe enveloping the song. Indeed, with a slightly different spin, it would make a good song for chart topping wunderkind, Bruno Mars.
At times – such as in Get The Girl Back, the Hanson sound reminiscent of Las Vegas band, The Cab, with both groups choosing to compliment their guitars and harmonies with melodic piano. Another example of this is in Juliet, with the band serenading the Shakespearian character in what only can be perceived as a declaration of love for a significant other.
So many of these songs beg to be danced to, however that’s not to say that there aren’t a number of slowies for the lovesick in there either. For Your Love sees the band touch country in an almost sickly yet sweet manner, declaring to their muse ‘You’re the dream I go to every time I close my eyes’. Unfortunately, these types of songs can get a bit overbearing, with Tonight being borderline cheesy and even incorporating a choir.
One strong feeling that permeates the entire album is that the Hanson brothers simply love music and performing. As a listener, you can hear the joy in how they play. Nothing about their delivery feels forced, they are simply, getting lost in the motions of their songs and are having a good time – and as a result, the listener has a good time too. It is also nice to see how their sound has been honed into pop that feels very familiar yet also fresh, calling out to the listener to get up and join the party, and Anthem certainly proves that party time it is!
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