Review Summary: Maybe Hoobastank will not get back to the spotlight with another hit single as “The Reason” but Fight or Flight is definitely a return to form and a step in the right direction.
It’s been approximately eight years since the last time Hoobastank had significant success with their second major studio album The Reason, especially with the title track. After releasing Every Man for Himself in 2006 and For(N)ever in 2009 with mixed results, they’re back with their fifth effort titled Fight or Flight.
On Fight or Flight, Hoobastank is able to make an improvement over their predecessors with a newfound confidence (probably with the exception of The Reason), using some elements from their previous albums and also new ones. Despite this fact, they still aren't an outstanding band from the post-grunge pack, they’re just a generic band that have a better execution of their instruments after 18 years of still being together.
The album opens with their first single and one of the best tracks, “This is Gonna Hurt”, possibly their heaviest song yet and also reminiscent of songs like “Crawling in the Dark” from their self-titled album; the follow up track, “You Before Me”, has a more mature feel about a relationship and is on the same vein of “Disappear” (The Reason) and “If Were You” (Every Man for Himself).
Following two strong tracks, “The Fallen” starts with some electronic touches but falls a little bit short because of the teen angst filled lyrics and a lack of a better direction; “Can You Save Me” and “No Destination”, which have similar lyrics, aren’t prominent tracks even with Dan Estrin playing on a low-key style instead of his typical power cords.
After some experimentation, “Slow Down” shows another mature side in relation to how to live your life and a heartfelt delivery from Doug Robb, resembling “Moving Forward” (Every Man for Himself). The next track, No Win Situation, could be comparable with songs like Same Direction or Just One (both from The Reason), although not the best. “Sing What You Can’t Say” is another deep song but not as powerful as “You Before Me” or “Slow Down”.
On “Magnolia”, a song about Doug Robb’s daughter, Hoobastank shine as a band showing some progression in every level and making it the most interesting and best track. “Incomplete” is a competent song that is along the lines of “You’re the One” from For(N)ever; lastly, “A Thousand Words”, is musically the weakest track but fortunately another genuine vocal performance prevents to end the album on a unsatisfying note.
As a result, Fight or Flight is a good album with a solid and more intimate display from Doug Robb and company, despite not having the immediacy or catchiness from The Reason. Even though they are now a better band and write less teen angst lyrics, they still need to learn how to make a more coherent album and also how to be better lyricists.
Maybe Hoobastank will not get back to the spotlight with another hit single as “The Reason” but Fight or Flight is definitely a return to form and a step in the right direction. If they continue with this tendency, they could release more consistent albums but it will depend of their need to keep getting better as musicians and as band.
This is Gonna Hurt
You Before Me