Album Review: Hanson – Shout It Out

By on Friday, 4th June 2010 at 2:00 pm
 

This coming week, Hanson is releasing their new album, ‘Shout it Out’ on their own label: 3CG Records. It will be their fifth full-length studio album, and that’s not counting their many EPs, live albums and fan club CDs. Lead singer Taylor Hanson told Billboard.com that “every record is important, but this one feels like… a reflection not just of right now but a selection of things we’ve been putting in records for the last fifteen years.” And that is a perfect description of this album: the sound is both reminiscent of “old school” Hanson, with its upbeat feel and it’s catchy hooks, and something completely new for them. It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of this band of brothers, especially if you read the live review that was posted yesterday, so you can imagine how excited I was to hear this album. As I listened to it for the first time, during each song I thought to myself  “surely THIS is the best song on the album,” only to think the same thing about the next one, so a track-by-track account of the album seems to be necessary!

Follow the cut for a track-by-track review of the album!

1. Waiting for This — This is the perfect song with which to open the album, mixing bouncy piano, a great guitar riff and Taylor’s sexy, soulful vocals. The call-and-response in the bridge (“So shout it out / SHOUT IT OUT!”) is the kind of thing that will drive live crowds crazy. It almost feels like a declaration of intent: they are “shouting out” that Hanson is back, and that, in the words of the song, “you can’t deny it until you try it.”

2. Thinkin’ ‘Bout Somethin’ —  The first single from the album, this cowbell and horn-laden track will make you want to dance. Specifically, it will make you want to do the dance from its amazing music video. While the video is an homage to the Blues Brothers, the sound of the song (and much of the album) is an homage to the old school rock they grew up on, though updated and given Hanson-y touches like 3-part harmony. It’s a song about getting over someone and moving on, with lyrics like “You’ve been out there foolin’, but I’m not thinkin’ about you / I’ve been getting a love that moves me, while you’ve been getting around”.

3. Kiss Me When You Come Home — While it may start off a bit slower than the first two tracks, when the beat picks up in the chorus it’s still incredibly danceable. It has a fun ascending and descending pattern of chords on the piano and some fantastic harmony in the chorus, and I can’t help but think that Taylor’s pleas to be kissed will go over well with Hanson’s largely female fan base. And sure, it doesn’t really make sense to say “on my lips” after ” wont you kiss me when you come home?,” but Hanson has always been more interested in the way the song flows than in writing lyrics that make sense.

4. Carry You There — The pace is slowed ever further with this song, at least until the drums kick in half way through the 1st verse. It has an strong message of support, which is even more convincing when delivered in perfect 3-part harmony: “I don’t care what you say / Don’t have use for your words, anyway /You don’t need a Cadillac / I’ll be waiting with my bare back to carry you there.”

5. Give A Little — This is a song about just letting everything go and dancing with your woman, and it will make you want to do just that. Over a low, irregular and sexy guitar riff, Taylor sings quietly and breathily until the song breaks out, complete with horns, into a great sing-along chorus: “Give a little heart and soul / Let your body lose control / Give a little oh-oh-oh / Give a little! / Wrap your arms around her / Give a little!”

6. Make It Out Alive — There’s something very traditional and simple about this mid-tempo track, and it works well. Driven by Taylor’s piano playing and their vocals, it has a simple, yet gorgeous hook: “We may not make it out alive / but what does it matter when you’re here by my side?”.

7. And I Waited — One of the real stand-out tracks on the album, ‘And I Waited’ is very upbeat and dancey, and it sees Zac pulling double duty: he plays the hell out of the drums and delivers the vocals with same level of emotional intensity that we’re used to from Taylor. One of the best things about watching Hanson grow and mature as a band has been to watch Zac grow into his own and start to steal some of Taylor’s thunder.  He certainly does in this song, where his singing is the vocal equivalent of a strut, delivering lines like “turn the heat up for the meltdown” in a way that may surprise those who are used to thinking of him as the zany 11-year old drummer on ‘Mmmbop’.

8. Use Me Up — Also sung by Zac, this is the first real ballad on the album. With a simple backing of piano and horns, the way that Isaac and Taylor come in softly behind his vocals in places to create their signature 3-part harmony has a haunting effect. It is a song about preferring to risk getting hurt than to feeling nothing at all, and it’s heartbreaking in places, with lyrics like “I’d rather the broken heart / than live in the emptiness / of ‘What if the world wont take me?” and “Treat me some way cruel / You can throw me away, as long as I feel it”.

9. These Walls — This song is very much the distilled essence of Hanson: just jangly guitar, piano and drums behind a catchy hook like “These walls / I can’t take all these walls / they’re too hard to climb.” With none of the horns that are present on most of the other tracks on ‘Shout it Out,’ it could easily have come from their 2003 acoustic EP ‘Underneath Acoustic’.  It’s during their simplest songs, like this one, that you really get a sense of the raw talent that these three men have. Even just give them one guitar and no mics and stick them in the middle of nowhere, and they’ll come up with something amazing.

10. Musical Ride — This song is also sung by Zac, who seems to be taking on more songs with each new album. It’s a slightly slower song, but its still very powerful, especially when the harmony comes in during the chorus of “And every day, I’ll give you all this, nothing and more.” While it’s really about letting go and taking a chance with someone, part of the lyrics seem like they could be applied to people who don’t give Hanson a chance as a band: “Come on this musical ride with me / …It might just change your life / It might just blow your mind.”

11. Voice In The Chorus — While songs like ‘Use Me Up’ and ‘These Walls’ are more stripped down, this track has all the bells and whistles: bouncy piano, horns and ridiculously catchy hooks like “So tell me where you have been all this time, Caroline” and “You’re just another voice in the chorus / just another voice in the chorus”. And this song just gets better and better as it goes along: the breakdown at the end of the song starts with just Taylor and the piano, and gets louder and louder, adding more voices & instruments and, finally ending with chants of “woah-oh.”

12. Me Myself And I — The last track on the album, ‘Me Myself and I’ is another piano ballad, but this time sung by Taylor. It has very simple instrumentation: no drums or guitar, just vocals (sometimes harmony) and piano. In this way, it’s very reminiscent of 2004’s “A Song to Sing”. While its verses are about the falling apart of a relationship (“Must be the end of the road / It must be the end of you and I, and forever, too / I’m walking the last bridge alone / And giving up on the good times and the bad we knew”), the chorus is about being okay by yourself (“Me myself and I will never be alone / We will find a way to get along / And we’ll be fine / When all that’s left is me myself and I”). And when the final chord of the album fades out, you’re left with the feeling that you’ve experienced something really special.

‘Shout It Out’ will be released on 8th June 2010, and can be pre-ordered now. The full album is currently streaming on Billboard.com and through their myspace page.

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4 Responses

5:28 pm
4th June 2010

i love hanson. you guys rock.love you zac 4ever

7:17 pm
6th June 2010

I just loved what you wrote about the new Hanson album, Shout It Out! Such a great review! Congrats!

12:59 am
8th June 2010

Nice review of my favorite band. Our only point of disagreement – The Walk where Zac has 5 leads really showcased him, and his songs on this album are great, but this album is all about Taylor vocally.

4:50 pm
10th June 2010

AWESOME review.. this album is amazing in its own right.. i think everyone should take a listen to it at least once

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