Album Review: Hoobastank – For(n)ever

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Yes the truth is a bitter pill to swallow, but apparently these Cali boys who were inspired by Incubus and schooled alongside members of Linkin Park did not succeed to the extent of their associated acts. In fact, the peak of their popularity stemmed from a Mountain Dew commercial in 2001 and an overplayed love song in 2003. Critics were not too fond of their major label debut, and naturally the teenagers of the world ate it all up in abundance. Less than relevant and not willing to stick with what works for them, Hoobastank continued releasing albums and now we receive this quasi-poetically-titled, For(n)ever.

While they had a handful of catchy post-grunge fodder, all in all the band fell off the radars after The Reason. Memorability at this point consists of their peculiar band name, which sources say links to a German gas station. Rather accurate however, since they stank then and still do even more so now. For(n)ever attempts to add more alternative into the guitars and does so relatively well. Unfortunately, the depth of this album’s lyrics (or lack thereof) only get carried so far. The first single (and album opener), “My Turn”, is the typical “catchy” singles that gives off nothing but false hope. This semi-decent song loses spark once “I Don’t Think I Love You” chimes in, countering the almost Lostprophets copycatting introduction with something resembling mediocre, broken heart emo without any depth.

It is hard enough to take emo music seriously, but vocalist Doug Robb does not even seem enthusiastic in his lyrical development. Less elaborate than the sophomoric poetry of some other bands, Hoobastank makes The Young & The Hopeless sound positively chipper. “All About You” comes off as another lackluster Incubus clone trying to top Audrey Hepburn’s musical middle finger to Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady. The upside, however, comes from glossy production and slightly uplifting electric guitar work interwoven throughout, making it somewhat musically light and cheerful.

Another drawback is the song “Tears Of Yesterday”, which sounds more like a B-side to “The Reason”.  Personally, if a band is trying to sap inspiration from their own limited back catalog, would you really want to mimic the least worthwhile single of your career?  “Tears Of Yesterday” would have been mildly improved had it not utilized a background faux orchestration which almost badly samples “Bittersweet Symphony”.

The rest of this album, which more than likely will end up in some Wal-Mart clearance rack before too long, basically sounds as if Hoobastank went through every late ’90s pop rock hit for something to ape.  If someone listens to “Gone Gone Gone” and does not hear any half ass Matchbox Twenty mimicry to some extent must be deaf.  Let us face facts, if there were one band of the ’00s to take tips from on what defines generic, Hoobastank would be a forerunner, and For(n)ever would be their fallen opus (which is saying a lot).

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