Hanson
Middle of Nowhere


4.0
excellent

Review

by David James Young USER (181 Reviews)
May 30th, 2008 | 35 replies | 13,690 views


Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

Review Summary: How to sum up the nineties in three songs: Teen Spirit, Karma Police...MMMBop?

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

Take a moment to think of the following acts: The legendary Jackson Five. The sickly-sweet Osmonds. The synth-laden bop of Smoosh. The chicks-can-rock-too meets rock-in-the-name-of-the-Lord of Aly and AJ. The Disney-sponsored tween rock of the Jonas Brothers. Now imagine, if you will, the idea of a group of American siblings, almost always the young and clean cut kind, harmonising and making sugary-sweet music together. Seem like a familiar pitch? It should by now.

Rewinding about a decade back, one particular trio of brothers had topped the charts worldwide and were pinned up on every young girl’s wall. They were Taylor (fourteen at the time), Zachary (about eleven or twelve at the time) and Isaac (seventeen at the time), best known as Hanson. In 1997, they stormed the airwaves with Middle of Nowhere, a collection of irresistibly polished, fun pop songs and the occasional lighter ballad that connected with countless youth of the day that were confused by OK Computer, rocked too hard by The Colour and The Shape or even too young (thankfully) to buy Three Dollar Bill, Yall$. The album is no shine of complete brilliance by any stretch, nor a revolution in mainstream pop. Ten or so years after its release, it’s interesting nonetheless to realise the album isn’t as bad as one may have thought it was way back when.
Matter of fact, it’s much better.

Behind the production desks, another pair of siblings (the Dust Brothers) do an exceptional job with Middle of Nowhere- in terms of mainstream pop, this was the freshest and most organic sound going in the charts at the time. Layers of percussion, drum programming or even turntable scratches are laced stylishly in-between upbeat 70s organ, smooth bass, four-on-the-floor garage rock beats and surprisingly formidable guitar work. Washed over the top are the wonderful harmonies the three brothers provide. The sound created when the three sing in unison isn’t perfect (neither a natural perfection like the Jacksons or an Autotuned perfection like the Jonas brothers), but it’s this that makes them so enjoyable, especially on the Bee-Gees-grabbing-their-balls chorus of “Thinking of You” and the gorgeously arranged piano ballad “I Will Come To You”. They are unique when blended together, but there are points where it seems a little forced- one of the many credited personnel in the liner notes is a “Vocal Director”, indicating that Middle of Nowhere is as much Dust as it is Hanson brothers.

Taylor Hanson mostly comes across as a confident and upbeat vocalist- though how much said “Vocal Director” had to do with this is up in the air. Also, he doesn’t always stay on key and occasionally sounding somewhat like Tommy Pickles from Rugrats (a hit kid’s show around the same time- coincidence? You decide) or a wannabe MJ. Just like the good middle brother he is, he shares vocal duties around to his siblings too, almost accidentally presenting two of the album’s best songs. Zac’s lead number “Lucy” is a charming folksy slow dance, complete with harmonica solo, Beatles harmonies and the kind of naïve double negatives one would expect from a twelve year old (“Now I don’t have nobody!”, he cries near the chorus). Big brother Isaac’s turn is the upbeat West Coast rock of “A Minute Without You”- an endearingly optimistic love note enveloped by a catchy, multi-layered chorus and a simple but effective chord progression reminiscent of “Sweet Jane”. Isaac’s voice is another exceptional feature of the band’s sound, which is a real shame as it simply is not prominent enough throughout the album, save for a couple of outstanding accompaniments of Taylor (“I Will Come To You” is the best example of this).

The brothers often sound excited just to be recording music (listen out for Zac’s barking backing vocals near the end of “Look at You”), and the lyrics cover their wide-eyed awe perfectly. In three tracks’ time the band have covered picket fences, eagles, trains, daisies, roses, the sun, crowds…whatever, it seems, the band encountered on their merry way to the studio. The cheery naivety in the songs can mostly be overlooked, however; particularly on the ballads- “Yearbook” is an ambiguous mystery surrounding an old schoolmate, whilst “With You In Your Dreams” is a heartfelt ode to the brothers’ grandmother. The best of the lot here, however, is the slightly warped and slow burning “Weird”. Taylor takes his range to a low-key whisper for the verses, whilst an echoing wave of keyboard and harmonies creates a significant distance from the more upbeat numbers like “Madeline” and “MMMBop” (of course this review wasn’t going to go without mentioning THAT little number).
Of course, one could easily downplay the song structures as formulaic, but even something that’s deemed formulaic is impressive in this respect, coming from those who are doing it better than those twice their age.

Many years have past since Middle of Nowhere dropped, and much has changed. Family musical groups continue, but none (save Kings of Leon) appear to show any lasting quality. The Hanson brothers themselves have grown up into young men, and continue to make music. Hell, even yours truly has nearly become a fully fledged member of society. A good pop tune, however, always manages to worm its way back into your frame of mind from time to time. Middle of Nowhere is no exception.

You were all Hanson fans. Quit frontin’.



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user ratings (57)
Chart.
2.4
average
other reviews of this album
Pedro B. (3.5)
Nowhere near as bad as you think, Hanson's debut is a fairly pleasant, if incredibly guilty, listen....

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Shout It Out

Comments:Add a Comment 
fireaboveicebelow
May 30th 2008



6837 Comments


You were all Hanson fans. Quit frontin’.
you are wrong sir



Willie
Moderator
May 30th 2008



15875 Comments


Hey it was a good review, and if I heard their first single I couldn't get it out of my head for hours, but I still never liked them ;) One thing with the tense of the sentence (2nd sentence, third paragraph):

Also, he doesn’t always staying on key and occasionally sounding somewhat like Tommy Pickles from Rugrats


Digging: Emperor - In The Nightside Eclipse - 20th Year Anniversary

SHOOTME
May 30th 2008



2393 Comments


you are wrong sir


he was making fun of hiphoprules, hiprockrules, and hiphoprulesforever, duh.

Very nice review any, I'll pos.This Message Edited On 05.30.08

HighandDriving
May 30th 2008



3261 Comments


This is a sick review, good job.

Digging: Nightmares - Suspiria

HorrorBusiness78
May 30th 2008



104 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Ugh I always hated this band, even when I was a kid.

rasputin
May 30th 2008



14512 Comments


MMMBOP

hauntedneden
May 31st 2008



78 Comments


rock?

AtavanHalen
May 31st 2008



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ha, not my classification. Cheers for the feedback y'allz

IAmInsect
May 31st 2008



3800 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

i didn't read the review but good job anyway!
when i was in elementary school, in music class we had these things called music bucks that you earned for attendance, completeing assignments, etc. someone had this cd and told me they'd give it to me for all my music bucks which i had spent all year earning. i promptly accepted the offer and wanted to play it all the time in the gym during p.e.

Poet
May 31st 2008



5920 Comments



Ha, not my classification


The person who put this in the database probably based their genre off of their newer stuff which is more a pop/rock type of thing.

AtavanHalen
June 1st 2008



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Have you heard much of it? I'm considering looking into it on the back of the discovery of this one.

Willie
Moderator
June 1st 2008



15875 Comments


If you like pop rock by dudes then you'd probably enjoy this. I only like the chick pop rock stuff.

shrikeman1
December 14th 2008



128 Comments


MMMBOP IS THE BEES KNEES, Y'ALL!!!!!!!!!

AtavanHalen
December 14th 2008



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Indeed.

DoctorNurse
April 12th 2009



475 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

TBliss' most recent list made me listen to MmmBop again. theres a video of them doing an accoustic version a couple years ago on some talk show. Song makes me smile, as do the puppy-eyed faces of the all female audience, its hilarious.This Message Edited On 04.12.09

taylormemer
April 12th 2009



4913 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Album's pretty good.

AtavanHalen
April 13th 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Darn-tootin' it is.

Captain North
April 13th 2009



6768 Comments


My brother is a Hanson fanboy. It's fucked up. I hate them - I mean, its only natural when living in a house with someone who has all their cds (including the pointless, re-releases etc), all his casual t's are Hanson etc. Argh.

AtavanHalen
April 14th 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

How old is he?

Captain North
April 14th 2009



6768 Comments


25.



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