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The release of Hanson’s fourth album may come as a surprise to the music-buying majority for whom the brothers are no more than an Mmmbopping footnote in chart history; in fact, ever since their 1997 hit, the trio have been delivering their own brand of melodic pop rock to an apparently appreciative fan base. Now with wives, children and substantially less hair, the trio have set up their own label and produced an upbeat, blues-tinged record, rich with soaring anthems a cut above the usual CW soundtrack fare.
Their novelty past may not win them any credibility points, but it’s certainly schooled Hanson in the art of songwriting. The lead single “Go” is a gorgeous swell of melody that possesses a simple sincerity lacking from similar songs by Snow Patrol or Augustana, while the rest of the collection is carefully layered with piano, acoustic guitar and the judicious use of harmonies. “Tearing It Down” is the track Maroon 5 should have made: funky, irresistible and raw enough to keep a spontaneous edge.
While the album does have its weaker points—the Christian lyrical simplicity of “Fire on the Mountain” irks and the interludes from the children’s choir would be better cut—the band’s intentions are so good that even the anti-AIDS anthem “The Great Divide” avoids the usual weighty self-importance of other “cause” records.