When you think of the band Hanson there will no doubt be one song that pops into your mind. Mmmbop is the track that resonates with everyone and, despite its huge popularity back in 1997, it also led many people to form negative preconceived ideas about a band that actually has talent by the bucket load.
Though I was one of the many who lost track of Hanson through my teen years, I was definitely a fan of them back in the day and I still never fail to bring out their Christmas album every year as soon as its hits December 1st. But this accidental and wonderful discovery of their most recent album has reawakened my love for the band.
Made up of three brothers from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Hanson have been around for over a decade and as the boys grew into men, their sound progressed with them, for the better.
Unless you’re a die-hard fan you might have forgotten all about them over the years, but Hanson have never stopped making music. Shout It Out is their eighth studio album and was released in the UK in 2011 through their own label, 3CG.
For me an album will always sound more authentic when written and produced by the artist. The listener can feel the band’s heart and soul in the songs, because you can be sure that the album is precisely as they wanted it. That’s exactly the impression you get with ‘Shout It Out’.
Whilst it retains the fun and uplifting elements that Hanson always brought to their music, it also has a jazzy, soulful sound, proving that these the guys know exactly what they’re doing, why they’re doing it and who their doing it for.
The album on the whole is ambitious and it really highlights the band’s strengths. With catchy choruses, up-tempo drumbeats and funky piano, there are certain songs that sound reminiscent of their old music, but tighter and more honed. The first two tracks – Waiting For This and Thinkin’ Bout Somethin’ – are prime examples of the fun, energy-driven and groovy music that Hanson excel at. Give A Little is probably the catchiest song of all; its energy and jazziness provokes a need to do a little boogie every time it’s played. It’s a true toe-tapper. These songs are designed to create a jiggling sense of glee and they wholeheartedly succeed.
The album is able to switch seamlessly from distinctive, up-beat Hanson-esque tracks to slower, more lyrical songs, including Musical Ride and Me Myself and I, which in particular has a more grown-up feel.
My personal favourites have youngest brother Zac on lead vocals, whose voice has a rawer quality, shown off perfectly on And I Waited with it’s steady drum-beat and pleasing instrumentals.
Use Me Up is a down-tempo piano beauty, again completely suited to Zac’s vocals. The lyrics are heartening and assist in revealing the bands first-rate song-writing ability.
The harmonies are still a Hanson speciality and the band have poured their love of rhythm and blues into almost every song, without losing their own unique sound.
Shout It Out is a brilliantly well-rounded album and I can certainly say there are no truly terrible songs, which is to be applauded. Hanson have proved that they’re so much more than just teeny pop, mmm-bop kid sensations. They’ve mastered their craft and show a wisdom that could only come from having been in the industry since childhood. Their love of music and enthusiasm shines through and it’s clear they still adore it as much as they ever did, if not more.
The album radiates musical talent. The brothers write, produce and perform and they manage to do all this and still come across as genuinely likeable characters. They may not always be mainstream, but the band are making their own musical choices and not being dominated by corporate monsters that want to turn them into something they aren’t. I think Hanson understand they aren’t for everyone and though it must be like a broken record, to some people they’ll always be the ‘Mmm-bop’ kids, but that’s okay. They have their audience and they always will.
Shout It Out won’t please everyone, but it’s one of the most likeable albums I’ve accidentally come across in a while.
Don’t knock it until you’ve given it a listen.