I’ve stated before that I avoid anything by Hanson prior to their 2000 release This Time Around. That includes the ubiquitous, over-played, much-maligned “MMMbop.” So, for those of you whose ears fear encountering that track, fear not! This band has put out 5 amazing albums (and a live, best of) since then. This playlist showcases their variety of styles over the last 13 years with the heaviest emphasis on my two favorites: the aforementioned, This Time Around and the previously-reviewed The Walk.
Hanson: All Grown Up
1. Strong Enough To Break, Underneath – The band has always been good at saying how they are feeling. Coming off of a very tough several years and deciding to go the independent route, this song is a great statement from a band that’s willing to put every last bit of heart into their music.
2. Great Divide, The Walk – Another great album-opener. While the driving guitar chords are obvious, I think that the piano action here is the best part.
3. Make It Out Alive, Shout it Out – This track reminds me a lot of the band Chicago with the chord structures, piano style, and horns. The difference is a more aggressive vocal approach than Peter Cetera would have attempted.
4. Lost Without Each Other, Underneath – I like the vocal approach on Underneath. It often seems a little rushed and a bit mushy, which I would normally would hate, but Taylor really excels at using to communicate emotion.
5. Georgia, The Walk – The band used the opening piano riff in a series of video podcasts leading up to the release of this record, so there was already a familiarity when the album came out. I know that I use the vague term, “immediacy”, a lot – but this is another great example of just that.
6. Juliet, Anthem – This is easily my favorite song on the new record. It’s playful and powerful. I love Zac’s voice here and on most everything he does.
7. Hand In Hand, Live and Electric (originally, This Time Around) – This song was my first introduction to Isaac’s vocals. I love how he gets so passionate – which is why I opted for the live version in particular.
8. A Song To Sing, This Time Around – I love “downer” songs. I love piano-based pop. I love vocal harmonies. So, for me, this is homerun. It’s a welcomed palette-cleanser at the end of great album (like a “cool down” after a workout).
9. Use Me Up, Shout it Out – All the reasons listed immediately above are what make this song succeed. Couple that with Zac’s vocal performance and you’ve got another winner. To me, the horns here are a bit reminiscent of Matchbox 20’s Mad Season record.
10. Save Me, This Time Around – This is one of the very first Hanson songs to really jump out at me. The harmonies are so locked in and the delivery is achingly desperate.
11. You Can’t Stop Us, Anthem – Like “Strong Enough to Break”, this is another great “statement” song. As I mentioned in my review of the album, I love the chorused vocals on the chorus.
12. Penny & Me, Underneath – This song is special to me because my wife knew it before we even met.
13. Watch Over Me, The Walk – Another Issac-fronted rock track. As on “Hand in Hand”, he showcases the ability to bring an impassioned and aggressive vocal approach.
14. This Time Around, Live and Electric (originally, This Time Around) – I love this version of the song for the way that it builds, then strips out the instruments for the first chorus. Additionally, I love the traded verse vocals. Finally, it showcases more widely spaced harmonies that create a more expansive range. While tight harmonies are beautiful, I love the range here, especially live.
15. Go, The Walk – I’ve said before that this is my favorite song in the entire catalog. Zac shines on the lead vocal. The piano-propelled melody is excellent. There’s no reason not to declare it a “perfect song.”