Saturday, September 15, 2012

RECORD REVIEW: Hoobastank "Fight or Flight"

Fight or Flight
(Open E Entertainment)

The kids from Agoura
Hills are finally back!
And with the recent
release of their fifth
record, Hoobastank
has delivered what
is arguably the best
of the year. 

Featuring perennial members, frontman Doug Robb, guitarist Dan Estrin and drummer Chris Hesse, Hoobastank burst onto the national scene with their self-titled major label debut in 2001. In ensuing years, the crunchy So-Cal combo unleashed a slew of such modern rock radio staples as "Crawling in the Dark," "If I Were You" and the mega chart-busting, "The Reason." Then came the Howard Benson (Daughtry, Seether) produced 2009 masterpiece, For(n)ever — the record that firmly cemented Hoobastank's rep as the world's preeminent rock band. From such razor-sharp, high octane ditties as "My Turn" and "All About You" to the poignant break-up anthems, "So Close, So Far," "The Letter" and "Tears of Yesterday," For(n)ever showcased Hoobastank as a band with few musical boundaries.

However, that was nearly four years ago — several career lifetimes in today's ever-changing, fast-paced music iBiz. But fortunately, these lil' "stankers" have seemingly continued to engage in enough dysfunctional relationships since 2009 to inspire yet another record's worth of raucous and passion-filled nuggets.

They say what doesn't
kill you, well I'm sure
you know the rest.
If you'd shut up for
a second, I could
this off my chest.
(From "This is Gonna Hurt")

In 2012, Hoobastank's line-up
also included 2009 acquisition
Jesse Charland on bass.

I know that you're no
good for me, poisonous
but I can't leave.  
I'm trapped in a no win,
a no win situation.
(From "No Win Situation")

Produced by Gavin Brown (Three Days Grace, Metric), Flight's lead-off single, "This is Gonna Hurt" as well as "No Win Situation" and  "Incomplete" are aggressive, yet hooky pop / rockers reminiscent of several of the best from For(n)ever and likewise serve as some of Flight's highlights. 

But the key to Hoobastank's super-human power is not its awesome ability to rock, but rather its unparalleled songwriting. And when they aren't quite so abrasive-sounding, the true craftsmanship of Hoobastank's impeccably well-written songs shines best. Hence, "Sing What You Can't Say," "Magnolia" and "A Thousand Words" provide some of Flight's brightest moments.

Simply put, at the end of the day, it truly is ALL about "the song." And in that regard, Fight or Flight proves that Hoobastank remains in a league of its own.

-Christopher Long
(September 2012)

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