“Personality is a creative medium of its own. People depend on you to exhibit some consistency of taste, some sensibility, as they rely that you won’t adopt diametrically opposed political views from one day to the next or keep switching in conversation into various foreign accents. So we ought to have musical loves and personal tastes, so long as we’re not naïve enough to think personal is all they are, or so selfish as to exclude other tastes from legitimacy.”
–Carl Wilson, Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste
I never thought I would write the following words, but I take great joy in that I can.
Their previous record, Shout It Out, was good too and the reason Anthem works is because it takes what they started, a return to the Motown-ish, big brass roots they claim, and built upon it, brought the ideas to even richer heights. It makes good on the promise of something more, something better, and succeeds at maintaining relevance in an age where as many love them as love to hate them. In doing so, they’re becoming sort of a non-counter counter culture thing.
Before meeting my wife, I did not listen to Hanson (I still don’t listen to Hanson, but do). They were that band who produced an undeniably great pop song. Anyone who says otherwise need realize that recognizing it is a terrific pop song is ok. It’s in fact a perfect pop song with a lyric easy to repeat and get stuck in one’s head…MMMBop.
What I was unaware of until said relationship is that they continued, kept writing songs, had difficulties with record producers and companies, and worked hard to put themselves on their own label and make their own moves. It’s a narrative anyone in the arts can appreciate and uphold. In this day of pop music built upon performers who have very little to do with the formation of their own material it is doubly important that they still write, record, and perform their own material and control how it’s being released.
But we forget them. They are the band with that one song that has made girls scream and shout for decades. They are the band that still makes girls who have become women, and the generation in their wake, scream and shout.
They’ve done well by themselves. Never disregarding the importance of MMMBop, they have also not clung to it. Continually attempting to redefine who they are in the world and why we outside the borders of their domain should care.
With their latest record we should, and might, pay attention. There are many who will not get beyond listening to Hanson and there are many who will not dig the aesthetic they have going, which, as it should be, is forged around pop song schematics and, in this case, summer time roundabouts. (It sounds like something for summer as did their last.) But if you can break through these walls, there is some solid work going on here and may be the record of their career.
Adding a distinct weight to their sound and utilizing the brass section previously introduced to a much fuller extent, this is a record to draw the line and move even further than they already have. It’s a record to honestly proclaim that MMMBop was another band that forged the way but has been buried in the weight of age and grace. Cheers!