No matter how old they get, Hanson will always be the "MMMBop" boys. That 1997 hit was the precursor to the boy-band boom that gave us the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync and 98°. But while their voices may have gotten deeper, the brothers Hanson—Isaac, 23, Taylor, 21, and Zac, 18—have struggled to evolve with the times since their multiplatinum debut Middle of Nowhere.
The trio's third studio album, released on the group's own independent label 3CG Records, demonstrates that they may have grown up but their sound really hasn't. Hanson is still cranking out guitar-pop ditties and bubblegum ballads that sound so '90s. Although the Hansons continue to get extra points for playing their own instruments—Isaac on guitar, Taylor on keyboards and Zac on drums—they could use some meatier material to sink their musical chops into. The lyrics, nearly all written by the brothers, are downright corny by today's TRL standards. "Broken angel, you got to learn to fly/ Get up, earn your wings tonight," Zac croons on the treacly "Broken Angel." Elsewhere, on the insipid "Hey," they sing, "When I'm making my movie, baby/ You keep saying all my lines." Mmm...huh?
Still, there are some signs of artistic development. Hanson experiments with Chicago-style horn charts on the effervescent "Crazy Beautiful." Meanwhile, the hidden track "Lulla Belle" has a countryish feel that hints at an acoustic direction that Hanson might want to take in the future. Some things don't need changing, though, and Hanson's stunted growth isn't always such a bad thing. With their sweet harmonies, bright melodies and youthful exuberance, they continue to have a boyish charm on tracks like the buoyant "Get Up and Go" and "Deeper." In spite of yourself, you will still be bopping along to them.