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Record Rating: ***

Hanson - Underneath - Sony Music Yep, it's that Hanson; the Mmm Bop brats. After this boy band’s blockbuster debut Middle Of Nowhere hit number one in 1997, there was the deluge of the Backstreet Boys, Nsync, 98 Degrees, etc. along with the less musically inclined Spice Girls. The band - Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson made it safe for kid singers in pop music again.

But unlike most teen acts, the brothers wrote or co-wrote their own songs, picked up production credits, and even played some of their own instruments. Underneath their third studio album finds the Oklahoma siblings trying to put away the bubbly bubblegum pop of their youth for a more mature sound. The album opens on a strong note with the first single 'Penny & Me' and moves onto the catchy 'Strong Enough To Break'. Of course people are going to be skeptical of Hanson at this point, especially since their last "comeback" album in 2000 didn't exactly tear up the charts. The 15 tracks on this album are standard pop/rock fare – inspite of some co-written by the likes of alternative rocker Matthew Sweet. And Taylor's not the only Hanson brother with the opportunity to shine vocally here. Little brother Zac takes over the reins for a couple of tracks, especially on the piano ballad Broken Angel - proving himself to be very similar to Taylor vocally. Hanson have always been knocked by rock fans for their early cheesy pop (songs like 'Mmm…Bop', 'Where’s The Love', etc) and Underneath seems to be their way of showing off that they are more than that.

For this latest release puts them on the same shelf with Michelle Branch or Avril Lavigne - and probably wouldn't sound out of place next to John Mayer or Hoobastank on Top 40 radio. If that’s your music scene, you won’t be unhappy getting this one.

Read our other reviews:

Keane - Hopes and Fears       Prince - Musicology       Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand       Voyage 3- Various Artists      


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