Hoobastank – The Reason

thereason

Released: December 9, 2003 by Island Records

 

We already did 1983 and 1993, might as well keep going and hit 2003.

I really wanted to hate this band just because of their stupid name, but alas sometimes you just have to take the good with the bad. Besides, it’s better than the alternative: a shitty band using a really cool name. They first crawled out of the dark and into my consciousness with the track “Losing My Grip” off the Scorpion King soundtrack, so as I am often prone to do, I took a flier on this – their sophomore release – when I found it for sale in the new release bin at my local record haunt. I was not disappointed.

Coming out of California in the late 90’s, Hoobastank apparently went through a number of musical directions (including the employment of a full-time sax player) before settling in as a very polished, very energetic post-grunge/alternative metal band. They kinda bridged the gap between the snotty power-pop punk of Blink-182 and the aggravated hip-hop metal trappings of Linkin Park. Dan Estrin’s guitars often surge with relentless abandon while remaining clean and sharp, the riffs slicing more than crushing. Meanwhile vocalist Doug Robb has a very distinct sound, one of the reasons I was drawn to the band in the first place. I never confuse him with any other singer while at the same time he sounds enough like his contemporaries that the band stays in rotation when I go binge listening by genre. His ability to effortlessly switch between rage-filled shouting to sweet crooning without it being even remotely jarring is what really sets him apart to me. I’m always impressed with guys who can control their range the way he does especially without resorting to extreme histrionics.

The album produced a big fat hit with the title track (#2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of ’04) and also managed to garner decent radio play for “Out Of Control”, “Same Direction” and “Disappear”, but they’re far from the only quality songs here. “What Happened To Us?” has an amazing, insistent riff and “Unaffected” has a killer mid-tempo chorus. Lyrically they’re very introspective but unlike many other bands of the era it’s in a positive vein, challenging themselves and their listeners to break free from the things that bind them. I played the crap out of this album from 2004-2005 and it became very much a summer album where high energy is always welcome. Even though it represents the peak of their commercial success, I actually think they out-did themselves with the follow-up, but that’s a review for another day. In the meantime, this record kills and would easily score a 9 (or better) from me if it didn’t cut out so quickly. I mean some of the songs just get going when they’re suddenly over, and less than 42 minutes for 12 songs does not impress me. There’s that punk influence.

ALBUM RATING: 8.

 

TRACKS

1) Same Direction

2) Out Of Control

3) What Happened To Us?

4) Escape

5) Just One

6) Lucky

7) From The Heart

8) The Reason

9) Let It Out

10) Unaffected

11) Never There

12) Disappear

 

BAND

Douglas Robb (V), Dan Estrin (G), Markku Lappalainen (B), Chris Hesse (D)

 

Produced by Howard Benson

 

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