Album review

Hoobastank : Hoobastank

Hoobastank : HoobastankHoobastank's current European tour with Incubus has finally prompted the domestic release of this, their major label debut. If you're a fan of their tour-mates sound then there's a lot to like here. In fact, Hoobastank have come in for some flak for sounding just a little too like Incubus - a common love of Mike Patton-era Faith No More is what links both bands' sounds - particularly in the vocal department. However, it's not that simple: While Incubus have a habit of going off on musical tangents, Hoobastank write straight-ahead hook-laden rock tunes - think P.O.D. or Linkin Park - which makes their music hugely approachable.

Crawling In The Dark kicks things off in fine style - it's the most instant track here, and will no doubt be inescapable when it gets released as a single in the UK. It's already been a huge radio hit in the States, and has been instrumental in propelling Hoobastank back up the Billboard album chart.
    Running Away is when this album gets closest to the Incubus sound. Acoustic guitar backed verses merge into a noisy chorus as vocalist Douglas Robb does his best Patton/Boyd impression over the top, working through issues which aren't remotely similar to the cliched white boy angst or screwed-up childhood themes which usually clog-up nu-metal: "I don't want you to give it all up and leave your own life collecting dust. And I don't want you to feel sorry for me. You never gave us a chance to be. And I don't need you to be by my side to tell me everything's alright. I just wanted you to tell me the truth. You know I'd do that for you."
Hoobastank's best tune has got to be Up And Gone. Blessed with a killer hook, and employing some excellent dynamics, it's a nightclub floor-filler in waiting. As a single, Up And Gone could propel this band into the big league.

On occasions, Hoobastank veers very close to a bunch of quality pop songs disguised with a layer of distorted guitars, especially on tracks like Remember Me and Too Little Too Late. You might consider this a bad thing, especially if you found Linkin Park's debut difficult to stomach.
    However, I've just seen Hoobastank totally convince a sceptical Incubus crowd that they are the real deal - a very impressive live performance with songs that made an instant impact. Alternately referred to on the tour itinerary as Scooby Snack and Sperm Bank; the name is Hoobastank, and that's well worth remembering.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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