Sunday, July 10, 2016

HANSON-Underneath (2004)


Busted again! Continuing with the theme and the idea that, despite me being a boyband lover, I've found myself guilty of failing to show love for yet another all-male pop/rock band, I finally get around to some real good listening to the Tulsa, Oklahoma sibling trio I've been missing out on for the past—what—two decades? Up until now, the only justice that my ears had served to the HANSON brothers is their hugely popular 1997 hit, "MMMBop", which was largely due to a compilation CD I owned back in the mid-2000's. Fell in love with the song and had kept it as a mainstay for my easy-listening playlist for a long time, but I neglected to pursue the boys further. Seven years later, their adolescent vocals had surely matured when the teens reached their twenties, so I knew it would be interesting to hear what they sounded like going into checking out their sixth album (counting their demos and their one holiday collection released prior) entitled "Underneath", a random selection from their post-New Millennium catalog. Matured and changed indeed—the same familiar vocals that made "MMMBop" the sunny delight that it was were not so familiar to me on the opening cut, "Strong Enough To Break", but smiles of delight came across me nonetheless when I decided that this was a song was strong enough to be my new "MMMBop". The production had immediately sparked my music senses, followed by the intelligence of the contrasting irony of the song lyrics—solid, but being so fragile at the same time. Definitely the main one that I'll keep coming back to with future re-listens! I discovered rather quickly that I like these post-New Millennium HANSON brothers when they kick it in high gear and rock it out, evidenced first by my wowed reaction to Track #6's terrifically presented "Lost Without Each Other", which is a festival of bouncy fun, highlighted by the line in the chorus that goes ' all I know is what I'm missin' is your kissin'; are you listenin'? '. Then there was the energetic dance beat of "Get Up And Go" that further got me pumped and into the rockin' spirit, with the third totally rockin' jam being Track #11's "Crazy Beautiful", which started to stick to me especially with the brothers' repeated cheerful proclaiming of ' you're crazy beautiful ' in the chorus. Having become particularly attracted to the mellow acoustic guitar-driven tunes as of late, Track #5's "Misery" found some new company in me while the concluding piece, "Believe", made a true believer out of me. As with "Strong Enough To Break", I placed a mental bookmark beside both so that my ears can enjoy their unmiserable goodness in the days that lie ahead. Yet lying underneath all of the rockin' energy and the misery is a lot of charm and soul, the HANSON brothers showing how touching and inspirational they can be on "Broken Angel", how cozy they can get when singing about the girl named Penny on the album's third track, and how soothing they be on the lofty piano-led ballad hidden at the very end of "Believe". Beneath it all, I must say that "Underneath" is a fine effort, something that was waiting to wake up from under the covers and reawaken my interest in the guys whose "MMMBop" had brought them fame:

1. Strong Enough To Break
2. Dancin' In The Wind
3. Penny & Me
4. Underneath
5. Misery
6. Lost Without Each Other
7. When You're Gone
8. Broken Angel
9. Deeper
10. Get Up And Go
11. Crazy Beautiful
12. Hey
13. Believe [With Hidden Tracks]

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