June 20, 2013


an·them  \ˈan(t)-thəm\

1. The sixth studio release by the band Hanson
2. An incurable infection of sound punctuated by catchy melodies and harmonies, upbeat tracks, and general face-melting guitar
3. Of or pertaining to awesomeness. See "rock."
4. Aural pleasure
Synonyms: talent, perfection, earworm, #win
Near Antonyms: downer, bubblegum pop, comeback, Kanye West

I sat down to write a quick little album review, and this happened instead. My bad. The opinions I have are usually strong and entirely my own, but we're all susceptible to the influence of other people's opinions. I really didn't want the push of other people's preferences to cloud my own judgement this time, so I avoided reading any. This is it. My reaction to the first time I sat down and listened to Anthem with as little outside influence as possible. It's long. It's prone to tangents. And it was written in a naturally biased state of excitement. Carry on.

General Observations

  • Anthem is my favorite album title to date. I geeked out in true word-nerd fashion over the press release that began with a single, powerful definition. I got lots of A's on essays throughout school. My secret weapon? Hand-pick the most suitable definition for the term you want to argue and throw it right in the first sentence. This is me sending a virtual fruit basket to whoever wrote the press release and decided to use that definition of "anthem." 
  • I'm thrilled to see an Isaac lead again, though sad they cut "Nothing on Me" (is that the title?). The clips I heard had the same kind of sass and punch I love about "Fired Up" and "You Can't Stop Us." I hope it won't be locked away in the Hanson vault for good. Ditto for "Get So Low," which I enjoyed in Jamaica.
  • I hear more Queen in this Hanson album than any other, and that's a direction I'm happy to go. Even the cover art screams Queen! (cue parody called "Scream and Be Queen") 
  • I like the design. The colors, fonts, & suits all have a very polished, classy look. It's a step up from SIO in the typo department, though I still spot a few. Free editing offer still stands, guys.

1. Fired Up
I like the energy; it's a great show opener. I also can't believe Zac said the line "Come with us if you want to live" ISN'T a refrence to The Terminator. I'm not sure how it could ever be anything else.
2. I've Got Soul
Something in the horns or arrangement reminds me of "Soul Man." The whole song has a very 70s vibe to it. It's also neat to hear a guest performer (Michael Fitzpatrick of Fitz & the Tantrums) on a verse and not just as backup. In all truth I like the sound more than the lyrics.
3. You Can't Stop Us
The first time I heard this song, I was standing on a beach in Jamaica. I knew immediately that it would be my new favorite Hanson song. It sounded like Queen and "Life in the Fast Lane" had a happy child and gifted it drums. The album version doesn't quite measure up for me, but isn't everything made better by standing on a beach with Hanson? Also, thanks to Hanson introducing this song to us as "You Can't Stop Us Now," I will never get the title right.
4. Get the Girl Back
It wouldn't have been my first choice for a single, but it's growing on me already.  It's one of those songs I'll always like more live. Bonus points for making me clap.
5. Juliet
A+ from the English teacher here. I heard somewhere that Zac wrote this song for his daughter and just changed the name (Junia-->Juliet). I think it's sweet and brilliant, particularly the line about "any other name," knowing that it IS for a girl with another name, but that hardly changes the meaning. I was nervous when I heard a clip on hanson.net that sounded like "Where is the Love" (of Black Eyed Peas origin, not Hanson), but I'm pleasantly surprised by the full version. Shakespeare allusions + Zac's voice= win.
6. Already Home
I picture buffalo roaming to this one for no particular reason. They're happy buffalo, so it's not a bad thing. I love the harmony in the "oh oh ohs" and the bridge. If there's one thing Hanson is great at, it's building a solid bridge.
7. For Your Love
Maybe I've been watching too much Merlin lately, but I love the knight imagery. It sounds more like a fairy tale love song than a battle cry, but the lyrics tell the story of a loyal man who is willing to fight for his love, whether it involves storming a castle or laying down his life "not for glory," but "for your love." No wonder the first words out of my friend's mouth after we heard it were "I've just heard my wedding song." Swoon.
8. Lost Without You
It's your basic catchy pop love song, but I could go on vacation inside the breakdown at the end when they're repeating "just stay here in my arms."

9. Cut Right Through Me
If you've seen Zac doing the jig to it in the Re:Made in America documentary, you'll never unsee it. It's the kind of song that is going to embed itself in your brain whether you like it or not and may do its best work inside a commercial. The first time I heard part of it was during a livestream. My friend had to leave to go to the bathroom; Zac was drinking Mountain Dew. Jokes were made, and you may catch me unintentionally singing "you go right through me" to a beverage some time.
10. Scream and Be Free
This is one of my favorites. It's the song that gives us the title for "Anthem," and with good reason. I love the lyrics and the image I get from the line "sing it if you know it" of standing in a packed crowd, my favorite place to be. I can't wait to sing along badly at future shows.
11. Tragic Symphony
Word-nerd alert: I really like the title, that pairing of words that probably haven't been put together before. Taylor's voice also sounds particularly good to me on this track. I'll probably always think of KT Tunstall, though.
12. Tonight
The more I listen to it, the more I think "Tonight" could overthrow "You Can't Stop Us" as my new favorite--album wise, at least. Points for all the references to past Hanson songs (On the Rocks, This Time Around, etc.), and I just plain love the sound. I want to build a room with pillows and bright blue walls and pixie stix and put the end ("Don't wait for tomorrow") on repeat. That end is my single favorite piece of the album, hands down, and definitely the Queeniest bit of Hanson music in existence that feels a lot like "Somebody to Love."
13/21. Save Me From Myself
Call it track #13 or track #21, but it's more or less track #8 to me--the infamous Zac ballad. I first heard this song in Jamaica. Granted that night I stood next to the stage where the sound quality was that of a MIDI ringtone being streamed through a toaster, but it was forgettable to me. It rings a few bells now that I hear it again, like the name "Amelia," which, by the way, all my favorites have sung about. Andrew McMahon, Jon McLaughlin, & now Hanson. She must be some girl! The nerd in me likes the song more now that my friend Rachel pointed out how well it fits with Doctor Who. If anyone ever needed saving from himself and felt the loss of his friend Amelia, it's the Doctor.

If you've read this far and haven't already purchased and replayed Anthem at least half a dozen times, I'll be genuinely shocked. But if that is indeed the case, you can find it online at iTunes and Amazon, hanson.net, and physical copies in many stores that carry music like Walmart, FYE, and Best Buy.