There’s something special about the Loud EP that felt a bit missing on the last EP or two. If you don’t have it yet or aren’t sure if you plan to renew, it’s good, guys. It’s REALLY good. If you don't like spoilers and haven't heard the songs for yourself to form your own opinions, I suggest you stop now.
1. OOH LA LA LA
I guess it was only a matter of time before we got another song with a nonsense title and chorus. “Ooh La La La” is the 2016 version of “Dance Like You Don’t Care.” It’s the fun but superficial track complete with food imagery: “You’re reckless with your spice/I would happily not share/Love what you’re cooking/Damn good looking”. (I might prefer last year’s “Have it sautéed, grilled or filleted.” If you're going to go cheesy, go all the way.) My friend that works at Perkins pointed out that there is a menu item called the “Ooh La La French Toast Platter,” and I can’t help but laugh because of the food imagery in the song. That toast is pretty darn good looking, and I probably wouldn’t share.
If I had to pick a least favorite on Loud, it’s probably this one. I know, probably not the best way to lead a review of something I’m claiming is really good, but “least favorite” doesn’t mean I don’t like it. It’s kind of like saying vanilla is my least favorite cake flavor; it’s still cake.
Favorite part: It sounds fun? I don't really have one. It's probably why this one didn't rank higher.
2. STOP ME IN MY TRACKS
I love this one. It easily ranks 2nd for me if not tied for first. It sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack of an 80s movie and I’m not entirely sure why. I don’t have much to say about this one because my love for it comes 100% from the sound. I could talk about lyrics all day, but I always fall short when it comes to describing the technical side of music. You’ll have to listen and judge it for yourself, and be prepared for your brain to put it on repeat whether or not it's actually playing.
Favorite part: The entire bridge (“I don’t want to wake up dead inside…”). Hanson is always at their best when there is a harmony-driven breakdown.
3. NO REST FOR THE WEARY
This song is anything but filler material between albums and wins the first place spot for me. It has this super catchy “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou” kind of sound, but it’s the lyrics that take it to the next level. It tells the story of the underdog that managed to keep his confidence in spite of life’s obstacles, or maybe because of them. The narrator is stubborn and headstrong in the best way possible and speaks as someone who has experience being told no and then relishing the moment of proving everyone wrong (“Brother, don’t waste my time/I’ve already made up my mind”). He outlines all of the flaws that make up who he is, but he’s not offering an apology for any of them. It comes off as “this is who I am, deal with it,” and you kind of have to love him for it.
Hanson is always quick to say that their songs are rarely autobiographical, but I think this one has a lot of truth in it for them. I absolutely love the line “Cause my feet can’t move/to where my heart just ain’t.” I think it perfectly sums up a band of guys that took the road less traveled and found their success by sticking to their guns and not compromising their values just for the sake of doing what’s safe and profitable. They’re not afraid to eat the occasional hat or lose a case if they’re doing it for the right reasons.
The one line that threw me off at first was “Cause I take my cue from a condemned man” because I couldn’t figure out who the man would be. After a few listens I thought about how Jesus was condemned. His followers would certainly fall into the category of “the weary” and understand the struggles of the underdog (and there's Matthew 11:28: "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."). I don’t know if that interpretation is right, but it fits and I like it. Feel free to tell me in the comments if you have an alternative explanation for the identity of the “condemned man.”
Favorite part: “And I can’t resist/ When I hear proclaimed/That it can’t be done/Boy that’ll never be changed.” Amen, guys. Keep proving people wrong.
4. SOMETHING LOUD
My interpretation of this song was influenced a lot by Isaac’s choice to discuss his belief in God during his lecture and the fact that I share in those beliefs. I’m a little hesitant to put such a specific interpretation out there that I know might change the way some people look at the song, but this is my take and I’d be happy to hear other perspectives.
The song makes several references to the “River of Live.” The first line sets it up as though it could be the name of a bar, but “River of Life” is a Biblical reference symbolic of the offer of eternal life. The opening line “I go down to the River of Life/Every night for a cure/To my worrying mind” reads to me like a man who regularly looks to God for guidance and answers. Even the image of going “down” to the River of life makes me think of someone getting on their knees to pray. The whole song feels like a metaphor of someone in search of “something stronger” than the drinks you can find in just any bar and praying for something more, “something loud.” In the second verse, it says “If you’re a regular here/You’re probably drinking alone/For a stiff drink, you’re out of luck/Every pull from the draft/you’ll say ‘Give me something stronger…’.”
I’m going to quote the Bible to wind up my point here. In John 4:13-14, Jesus (speaking about regular well water) said: "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
Until the guy in the song starts looking for that kind of drink from the River of Life, he's always going to feel thirsty like he still needs something stronger.
Favorite part: The sound of this song live. Isaac nails it in a way that doesn't quite come across in the recording.
5. SIREN CALL
In Greek mythology, the Sirens are creatures that would use their gift of beauty and song to lure sailors off course and ultimately crash to a rocky death. I think in this song, the siren call isn’t music itself, but is symbolic of the dangers of letting yourself lose sight of your goals and getting off course. The first verse is all about living with stress and hardships. The lyrics say “No straighter path than to struggle/’Cause when we rest we fear/And it draws them near.” It’s saying that the straightest path is always going to be a struggle, but the minute you stop pushing towards your goal and let yourself rest is when you’ll fall victim to more dangerous obstacles, whether that’s some outside distraction or maybe even your own mindset.
Favorite part: The “woo oows” are just the right amount of eerie to complement a song about falling victim to a siren call. I also like the line “Before the music stops,” because it’s obviously referring to the siren song, but I think being told from the perspective of a musician, it could also refer to the fact that a musician falling victim to a metaphorical siren could stop them on their journey to create music.
Also, I’m pretty sure Hanson is made up of the best sirens in the business. God knows we’ve all gone down some crazy paths to follow that music, though the rock we get is hardly deadly. I hope it never stops.