After a three-year break, Hoobastank is back with a new LP to keep things fresh for their fans. The four-piece ensemble, led by frontman Doug Robb, started off in 1994 grounded in ska and funk metal, but has developed over the last fifteen years into a more mature-sounding alt-rock ensemble.
They are best known for their power ballad “The Reason,” which reached #1 on the Modern Rock Charts and #2 on the Billboard Top 100, but Hoobastank has always willing to experiment thematically and sonically. With hits like “Same Direction” and “Running Away,” the group has helped to drive post-grunge alternative rock of the 2000s forward. Hoobastank’s latest effort, entitled “For(N)ever,” is a definite continuation of their creative surge.
The album begins with intensity, and from start to finish, Hoobastank’s solid rhythm section stays tight. Lead single “My Turn” features Hoobastank’s signature distorted guitar licks wail to match the timbre of Robb’s characteristic rasp, who wonders out loud, growling through the hook, “When’s it gonna be my turn?” Drummer Chris Hesse turns up the heat on the cymbals to deliver pure energy, and the rest of the album follows suit.
Check out the official music video for lead single “My Turn” here:
“Tears of Yesterday” is one of the album’s most radio-friendly cuts. An orchestral string arrangement leads with staccato, plucked notes, hinting at the song’s upbeat riff, just as bright major chords enter to give an upbeat, piano rock feel. Instantly we hear the chorus:
Subtle harmony and synth-pop instrumentation layer on top of the refrain, and it is clear that the Hoobastank of 1994 is no more; these guys have grown as a band, and are paying closer attention to the little details.
“I write your name in my breath on the window,
Sit and watch as it fades away,
The painful memories
Of the tears of yesterday”
Moreau’s intricate funk bass in “Gone Gone Gone” proves that he is more than a worthy replacement to original Hoobastank bassist Markku Lappalainen. The uptempo “Sick of Hanging On” highlights both Moreau and Hesse, who put in overtime to lay down a frenetic pattern over the returning wailing guitars, while Doug Robb’s trademark vocals lament:
“You Need to Be Here” is a more experimental venture, contrasting Incubus-like distortion effects throughout the verses to a wide-open sound for choruses.
“I can’t wait forever to know if we’re together, I’m sick of hanging on,/
Anything sounds better then waiting on you forever, I’m sick of hanging on.”
The angry “All About You” is quite possibly the album’s only misstep. Here, Robb’s irate intensity gets the best of him, and the result is as close to uncontrolled, near-atonal yelling as it gets, screaming with raw emotion, “It’s not all about you!” Perhaps he was decidedly going for the ‘emo’ effect with “All About You,” but the song simply repetitive, and comes off as incongruent to the rest of the album. Still, the rest of the band sounds great. And luckily the next song, “The Letter,” finds a much more contained Robb, and to greater success.
Overall, “For(N)ever” is proof that Hoobastank has reached a new plateau. Fifteen years and four studio LP’s later, the band is still around, now displaying a more assured, polished group sound, as well as careful attention to sonic detail and high production values throughout. Fans of edgy, contemporary alt-rock, do yourself a favor: give this album a listen.
“For(N)ever” album art.
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