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HOOBASTANK - EVERYMAN FOR HIMSELF - UNIVERSAL
Record Rating: ***

Hoobastank - Everyman For Himself - Universal Falling between Third Eye Blind and the Goo Goo Dolls, Hoobastank’s catchy and melodic post grunge formula made the group's radio friendly single The Reason the biggest hit of 2004, and even notched up a few Grammy nominations along the way for the California based quartet.

With third album Everyman For Himself, they ditch any pretense of being a garage band and finally acknowledge they're straight-up Top 40. Not that they've left the angst of grunge behind: they seem to be a modern rock act living in a post-grunge world, so there's lots of tortured emotions threaded throughout the 13 songs here.

First single If I Were You addresses the so-called feud between vocalist Doug Robb and Velvet Revolver’s Scott Weiland that occurred while they were together on tour in 2005, and it tries to be raucous and righteous all at once. After bassist Markku Lappalainen split in the midst of recording this album, the three remaining members divide their material relatively evenly between sing along worthy mid-tempo tracks and decidedly heavier singles.

Front man Robb seems to be aware of the fleeting nature of fandom in this decade, for he pushes his band hard throughout the album on tracks like Born To Lead and Without A Fight. It's as if he's trying to shake the ghost of The Reason, which gave them the breakthrough needed but also pegged them as a bubblegum one-hit wonder. While the band doesn't veer all that far from the tuneful modern rock sound of their first two albums, the other, softer side of the band is this time better represented on ballads like If Only and Look Where We Are. Though earnest and bearing the hallmarks of being carefully crafted, most of the songs are very easily forgettable, which leaves the band and their good intentions of offering us up a landmark album stranded.

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