Hanson – Anthem
June 18, 2013
What It Sounds Like: Piano-filled pop-rock from three brothers that have defied all the expectations for a band whose highest point was way back in 1997 when their ages were 11, 13, and 15, and they were singing some song called….MMMBop.
I have no shame whatsoever in calling myself a Hanson fan. When they released Middle Of Nowhere back in 1997 and I was 11 years old, I remembering going to Wal-Mart and buying the CD for $11.88 – the first one I ever bought with my own money. I remember bringing my boombox down to my living room, putting the cd in the player, sitting on my couch, and just listening to it from start to finish – simply hating Taylor the whole time because he was two years older than me, and he was getting all the girls.
Him and that stupid blonde hair.
Who would have thought that a whole sixteen years later, these siblings would still be cranking out the records with better-than-average results? They had all the makings of a one-hit-wonder with MMMBop; how in the world did these guys evolve into the late twenties/early thirties band that they are today? One main influential factor I will attribute it to: they write almost everything themselves. Oh, there’s a co-writer here and a co-writer there, but for the most part, almost all of their songs were written by these three guys. Even MMMBop! How do you write a song like that when the oldest member of your group is (or “was” at the time) fifteen? These guys have talent; there’s no question about it.
While they’ve always been a pop-rock band with plenty of piano, Anthem finds Hanson sticking with the more soul-influenced material that they started exploring and bringing to the forefront on 2010’s Shout It Out, possibly to an even greater extreme. Case in point, I’ve Got Soul is exploding with it, capitalizing even more so on the current Bruno Mars trend of being classy and slick with horns and big band sections. Juliet is a contemporary Renaissance mash-up that acts as an ode to Shakespeare’s famous character that fits in seamlessly with the rest of the mix. They nerds will love it. Hence, I think it’s a pretty good song.
If you read my blog, you’ll find that I sound like a broken record sometimes with the point I’m about to state (I’m sure I’ve said that same type of line in another review as well). Ready? The first half of the record is much stronger than the second half. Many records do this, and there’s no question about its relevancy here. For Your Love is a sappy ballad that I wouldn’t want to sing to a woman that I love – and I like sappy stuff – so what’s that telling you? Many of the others follow cookie-cutter formulas to be energetic (Scream And Be Free, Lost Without You), mid-range (Tragic Symphony), or ballads (Tonight). Are they horrific songs? Not at all. But are they easily in one ear and out the other? They are. The one saving grace is pop-soul of Cut Right Through Me – it’s certainly their niche style.
Do any of those later tracks deliver the standout energy of the lead off killer Fired Up? Or the fantastic harmonics on the chorus of the first single Get The Girl Back?
Nothing on tracks seven through twelve can shine a light to tracks one through six.
Hanson may be past their prime-time for enormous success. Their concerts are probably a plethora of 35 year old moms and their 12 year old daughters than 20 year olds trying to get backstage for some extra “time” with the band (they’re all married anyways, so what would even be the point?). All that being said though, they still can write some great tracks, even if they don’t stay completely consistent throughout the whole record. There is a lot to enjoy here.
If you had to listen to two tracks: Fired Up / Get The Girl Back