Hanson is one of those boy bands you can't believe you were so in love with once upon a time. But once you turn the radio past 94.9FM and a snippet of "MMMbop" squeezes its way back into your heart, you forget all your inhibitions and crank up that jam. Mentally, you're mentally back in middle school, each lyric rolling miraculously off your tongue and making your morning commute bouncy and carefree.
With their eighth album, Shout It Out, the band of brothers has brought me back to that mental place with another batch of perfectly-packaged power pop cookies. It's eerie that they don't seem to have aged much, in looks or vocal ranges, since their breakthrough in 1996. Their music has always been about life and love through the eyes of someone much too young to be world-weary (what 10-year-old seriously knows anything about relationships, or cares enough to break the cootie shield?), but now it seems they have finally matured.
Issac, Taylor, and Zac are all grown up, inching towards their 30s, raising broods big enough to build their own commune, and somehow they have enough excess energy to run their own small record label, write, record, and tour endlessly with big smiles on their purdy boyish faces. This energy is boundless on Shout It Out. With nary a ballad amongst its 12 tracks, it oozes with peppy charm that teeters dangerously on the edge of syrupy preciousness, and after a while it leaves an over-processed taste in your mouth. Richard Simmons will be reaching and lifting to these, no doubt about it. Yet after clapping along to the adorably cheesy video for "Thinking 'Bout Somethin" (see it below, and yes, that's Weird Al), I can't help but enjoy it -- at least in small increments. The guys seem to know it's hokey but make no apologies and are having a blast.
Shout It Out will likely be shelved after a few weeks on your iPod rotation, but there isn't much more refreshing to hear than three brothers still flawlessly whippin' out their instruments to do what they love together. (released June 8 on their label, 3CG Records).