logan j. fowler get deep in the ‘Stank…
Everyone has their guilty pleasure bands. For me, it’s Hoobastank. I have seen these guys actually twice in concert, the second time I did get to meet them. Despite their ridiculous name, they put on a great show, and are very nice. With four albums and a compilation of greatest hits under their belt, the band is releasing Flight or Flight, their fifth original album in September. As a fan, I was allowed through the powers that be at Pop-Break to get an early listen. Thanks guys.
The first half of the album is kind of depressing, save for track 2. Where the second tune, “You Before Me,” mainly has front man Doug Robb singing about the comfort of a relationship, the other four tracks pre-the latter half of the album all serve up words about pain or escaping the essence of hurt. And none of the songs really exemplify a solid rock element, except for track one “This is Gonna Hurt”, which has a metal tinge to it.
Heading onto track six, “Slow Down,” Robb preaches about how life should not present itself in a time oriented manner, how one should really just relax through the journey of living. Another slow track, it left me really yearning for something a little bit noisier and louder.
As if the musical gods were listening, the band finally digs a bit deeper with “No Win Situation,” track seven. Getting that rock vibe back that was missed since the beginning of the album, Robb blasts out about a scenario that a good number of us can relate to; a significant other who drives him nuts but he can’t let go of. The beat is steady and it brings back memories of old school (if that’s an appropriate phrase) Hoobastank. It is favorite track on the album, without a doubt.
With the album starting to wind down, my hope as a fan is that the rock gets harder and faster. Track 8, “Sing What You Can’t Say” goes back to the slower beats, and is pure cheese. Robb covers the whole “I love you but it won’t work spoken so I’m gonna sing about it” topic and really, this song would be at on a country album. Or in the back catalog of Jessica Simpson’s career. Needless to say, no thanks.
Track 9, “Magnolia” is another softie, with the front man singing about somebody special, but not getting enough time with said somebody. The band covered this topic much better with the song “Disappear,” one of my favorites off the album The Reason, which dropped in 2003.
“Incomplete” sounds promising at the beginning, but Robb attributes this to a significant someone again, like I said with “Magnolia,” this topic has been covered better by the band before, with more poetic lyrics and better usage of instruments.
Rounding out the album “1000 Words,” starts out with sweet sound of acoustic guitar, and is hypnotic. To their credit, the band has always put really good cappers at the end of their records. “Give it back” on their self titled, “Disappear” on The Reason, “More than a Memory” on “Every Man for Himself,” and “Gone Gone Gone” on For(N)ever. But “1000 words” doesn’t match any of those really. Lyrically it’s kind of meh, but overall the instrumental part shines through and is gorgeous, so I guess it’s not a total loss.
My disappointment in this album is pretty high. I’ve never put Hoobastank’s music at the highest quality out there, but to their credit, I’ve never found one of their albums to be boring. I’ve taken away something from each album in its own way. Hell, For(N)ever helped me through a break up.
Fight or Flight left a lot to be desired. The slow melodies with the soft lyrics are a different side of Hoobastank that they seem to exploit several times over here. Look, I don’t mind the occasional sappy stuff on an album, but Robb seems to put it into overkill, and I miss the sound that the band used to utilize, which was a harder rock with more gritty lyrics. The lyrics may have not been poetic in style or anything, but for me, what they put out I respected, because I got it. And I could jam out to it.
But not here. Flight or Flight is slow, drab, and most of all, boring. Save for track one and seven, and the instrumental element of the final track, Hoobastank has really (maybe indirectly) gone out of their way to dismiss what I liked about them so much; a band who could balance good rock with the occasional romantic tune, or even a slower sad song. Hopefully they wise up and bring back the good stuff on their next album.
Sadly, this will be the first Hoobastank album I won’t be getting upon release. In a word, it….”stanks.” Better luck next time, guys.