Hanson – The Walk
Release Date: July 24, 2007
Record Label: 3CG Records
“Ngi Ne Themba.”
The first words that you hear uttered on this album are sure to take you by surprise, but they’re as fitting for the album as they are for the band. Meaning, “I find hope” in Zulu, this is Hanson’s way of reaching out against the AIDS crisis in Africa, donating all proceeds to the sale of their single for “The Great Divide” to relief efforts. However, these words speak for themselves on the album; when I listen to Hanson, I find hope in pop music.
Hanson is a very different band from the “Mmmbop” kids everyone sees them as, and it is peoples’ predispositions toward the band as a result of their sugary, nonsensical past that doesn’t allow most to notice this. However, their previous two albums (Underneath, This Time Around) garnered them critical acclaim but hardly the mainstream success that the band has deserved. I find hope that, in a pop music universe filled with Paris Hiltons and “This Is Why I’m Hot”s, The Walk catches ears because it proves that pop music can be substantial, thought-provoking, and fun at the same time.
Does it move you/Does it soothe you/Does it fill your heart and soul/With the roots of rock & roll?
- “Been There Before”
The Walk follows where the band left off with Underneath, crafting soulful (yes Hanson, soulful) melodies such as the piano-laden “Been There Before.” It is obvious that the band has done their research on the roots of rock and roll, as the structures are simple in the songs but capture an essence that is so difficult to find in most modern pop-rock: honesty. One listen to “Georgia” and you will know exactly to what I am referring.
It starts off with a simple piano and Taylor Hanson’s seasoned vocals take you through what would be the typical boy-wants-girl subject, but is able to convey his passion without screaming, without crashing guitars, without any overbearing music that covers up any lacking elements in the band. And this is how the whole album goes. Hanson is a band that is so tight musically that their talent lets the music speak for itself and it is shown everywhere on this album. Isaac Hanson even has a masterful control of his voice, ranging from angry to comforting to soaring all within “Watch Over Me.”
It seems I spent too long/I can’t define my right from wrong.
- “One More”
Just when you think you have this band pegged down as your typical indie-pop band, they throw “Running Man” at you. One part funk, another part 70s classic rock, this song should through all preconceptions out the window as it is a sultry piece of rock and roll like the music the band grew up on. Once again, forget “Mmmbop”…this is a completely new band.
The rest of the album is as pleasurable as the first half, with one stellar track after another. “Fire On The Mountain” is an introspective cry to the world to fix the problems that we have caused. “Blue Sky” and “Something Going Round” finish the album in on high notes, giving us a glimpse of the Hanson that excels with tri-vocal harmonies and soaring choruses. The amount of variety on The Walk is an assortment most bands should envy, as they don’t stick to the typical fast song/mid-tempo/ballad format; Hanson’s range of sound on this album is vast, yet the album lacks any continuity issues. Every single song feels like it belongs.
You need this something now.
- “Something Going Round”
Simply put, you need this something. The Walk is an album that shines where most pop albums fail, and that is within the substance. Fortunately, it also shines where other pop albums shine, with clever, catchy hooks and music that is a joy to listen to. Forget what you thought you knew about Hanson because it’s time to finally give them the chance they’ve deserved for years. I find hope in Hanson; you should too.
I agree. This album is great. When I heard that it was streaming on AOL I was just curious to hear how bad it would be.. But then I listened and it wasn't bad at all. Kinda reminds me of The Rocket Summer/Michael Jackson, haha.
Thank you for this great review. Hopefully people will give Hanson another chance and see what a great band they are and how talented they really are. This album is leaps and bounds away from the MMBop days, and a great listen for years to come.