This Time Around


Island Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Hanson. Just naming the group of "Mmm Bop" fame might send some people running for the exits. How could this relatively harmless trio of brothers evoke such a negative response from people?

Easy - they made two big mistakes. More correctly, the people who handled Hanson made two big mistakes. The first was that they were marketed to be too cute. Three words: the Olsen Twins. 'Nuff said. Cute in small doses is okay; cute invading your living room constantly is a diabetic coma.

That's the second mistake that those who handled Hanson made - overexposure. Not only was "Mmm Bop" everywhere, but the group released four - count 'em, four - albums within a two-year period. You ha the studio release, the Christmas release ( Snowed In), the demo collection and the live disc. It was enough to make even the teenage girls wonder if they shouldn't be seeing other guys.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

So now that Hanson has returned with their fifth album This Time Around, even with a more mature look and sound, they have an uphill battle to climb. And so far, people's reaction to this album has been indifference, as it's pretty much been ignored. Too bad - 'cause the brothers Hanson might be lightweight, but they do know how to record an enjoyable, non-threatening album.

The proof is there in the title cut, a song which dares to show the band - Zac, Taylor and Isaac - rocking out to their light pop beats and harmonizing to the Nth degree. But the songwriting is tight, and the performances are just as powerful, proving that Hanson not only is challenging to regain their old ground, but they might just have scored the upper hand over their early days.

Sometimes, it doesn't seem like it will be that easy of a journey. This Time Around starts off weakly with "You Never Know," a song whose repetitive chorus nearly scuttles everything from the get-go. Fortunately, this is the only example of weak songwriting on the disc - but the next challenge is keeping the listener's interest throughout the disc. This is the harder of the battles, as This Time Around tends to jump around a bit stylistically. You've got introspective songs like "Love Song" and "Hand In Hand" intermixed with more powerful numbers like "Dying To Be Alive" and "Wish That I Was There," but sometimes it doesn't feel like they blend that well.

I don't know if anything could have corrected that, though repeat listens to the album seem to clarify things. But in an industry that looks for the new flavor of the month, one wonders if listeners' musical taste buds would want to keep giving this disc the benefit of the doubt.

And that's a shame, really. This Time Around is by no means a bad album; it shows that Hanson rightfully earned their 15 minutes of fame way back when. But people might not be able (or willing) to get past "Mmm Bop," and won't be able to see that this is an older, wiser group than the rag-top mopheads who ran amok in the parking lot in their first video.

Hanson is a band who show they have something more to offer listeners than what you may think. And This Time Around, even with some inherent weaknesses, deserves the chance to prove that to people. Here's hoping more listeners give them a try.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Island Records, and is used for informational purposes only.