PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Hanson: The Walk

If you cast them off as a one-hit wonder after teenage girls mooned over “Mmmbop”, you’re doing yourself a disservice.


The Walk

Label: 3CG
US Release Date: 2007-05-22
UK Release Date: 2007-04-30

Ten years after their biggest hit, the boys from Hanson are still around. Even more surprisingly, they’ve matured from three precocious kids to a genuinely talented pop/rock band. After skyrocketing to fame with the inescapable “Mmmbop”, the boys watched as their careers were nearly sucked dry by major label “marketing”, with a rarities/demos collection and a holiday album threatening to serve as their epitaph before they even got started. As the boys grew older and bucked against the major-label system, they cut ties with Island Records and released the surprisingly strong Underneath on their own label in 2003. Their fourth studio album, The Walk, continues in a similar vein. There are pop hooks galore, solid musicianship, and the boys certainly know their way around a melody. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that among the artists that emerged from the teen-pop boom they essentially revived, Hanson’s currently making the best records out of all of them.

For The Walk, the band joined forces with Danny Kortchmar, who has produced records for melodic pop legends like Billy Joel and James Taylor; as a result, the album sounds both contemporary and timeless. It’s pop as immediately hooky as the band’s hits were, with a more mature sound that would sound right at home on Adult Top 40 radio. While none of the boys stands out as an instrumental whiz, they’ve all got a good deal of instrumental prowess, and the album has a fresh feel, probably due to the fact that the album was recorded “live”, with little to no overdubbing. While all three brothers trade lead vocals on this album, the star of the show is still middle-brother Taylor, who has gone from sounding like “ABC”-era Michael Jackson to recalling Off the Wall-era Michael Jackson. His emotional yelp gives these songs an even stronger kick in the ass than they already have.

Although most of the songs are fairly pedestrian love songs, they’re all delivered passionately and organically. “Georgia” is a piano stomper that, with the proper promotional push (‘cause of course you know that radio programmers don’t choose what they play by virtue of song quality) , should be battling the Fray for air time. “Been There Before” takes a look back at rock and roll history and the power of music with a hook that you can’t help but clap your hands along to. The upbeat vibe of these songs is irresistible, and may I add that the boys harmonize beautifully as well.

A charity trip to Africa last year affected the band enough to feature an African choir on a couple of The Walk’s tracks, but to the band’s credit, it doesn’t sound like an attempt to rape anyone’s musical culture. The uplifting “Great Divide” and the rocking “Blue Sky” both use the choir to enhance already great songs. The self-produced “Blue Sky” actually turns out to be the album’s best track, with some seriously funky guitar and a ferocious lead vocal by Taylor.

Oldest brother Isaac and youngest brother Zac also pop up on lead vocals over the course of this album, with voices that are somewhat more typical “rock” vocals, which is to say they sound like Taylor with a couple of spoonfuls more testosterone. Zac turns out to be quite the capable vocalist, with his two turns providing a couple of the album's best songs. The peppy “Running Man” is one of those songs that will singlehandedly change your mood, while he also provides lead vocals on the title track, a song that escapes the album’s sole Achilles heel, the anonymity of the handful of slower songs.

The transition from child stars to respected adult artists is not an easy one, and very few make it through with their careers intact. It’s to the Hanson brothers’ credit that not only are they still around making great music, but they’re also doing it entirely on their own terms. If you cast them off as a one-hit wonder after teenage girls mooned over “Mmmbop”, you’re doing yourself a disservice. The Walk is yet another indication that Hanson is one of the most talented pop/rock bands working today.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.