Review Summary: The trick to life is to listen to this album once and then leave it alone
A new british band comes on the scene with catchy riffs, sing along vocals and upbeat drum lines. Sound familiar? That's because it is. Like the Arctic Monkeys and the Fratellis before them, The Hoosiers are another english band poised to take over english airwaves and our minds. But the Hoosiers miss an important ingredient of success - originality. The Arctic Monkeys created a new wave of britpop with their charming reimagination of the sound of bands such as Oasis or The Strokes. The Fratellis blew up sometime after the Arctic Monkeys, but catchiness can only take a band so far.
Which finally brings us to the Hoosiers. Released on October 22, 2007, the album predictably reached #1 on the UK Billboard. However, if music history has taught us any lesson, its that the UK billboard is to indie pop as the US billboard is to mainstream pop. In otherwords, it's not a very good indicator of quality. In the Hoosiers case, their holding of the #1 spot doesn't say much. True, the album is very catchy and you'll find yourself singing along to the first track, "Worried About Ray," in no time; even trying to match the lead singer Irwin Sparkes very noticeable falsetto's.
However, Irwin's trek to the Mount Rushmore of pitch is not a pleasant one. By the end of the first song, you'll be worried about his vocal cords - there's no possible way a normal human being can sing falsetto for that long amount of time. But Irwin's not done here - it comes back in the chorus of the second song and all throughout the third song and in the fourth song and the fifth song, etc. The entire album prominently features this aspect of voice, and if you don't want to regurgitate at first, you will by the end.
But apart from his voice, there are many good things about the songs as well. They are catchy, and they vary in tone while keeping the energy of the album intact. "A Sadness Runs Through Him" is one of the highlights of the album. From beginning to end, there is a gradual buildup of tension with it finally being released with a bundle of energy near the end. However, in this song there is something that sounds vaguely familiar. You get the same feeling you would get as if you were going to school or to a friends house just knowing you forgot something - but you don't know what. Well, here's a spoiler:
!At 2:00 minutes into the album Irwin sings the line "A sadness runs through him" with such strange intonation and psychadelic voice oscillations that it could easily be mistaken for a Beatles song!
This type of familiarity pervades itself throughout the entire album. While it certaintly helps the sound to be more welcoming, these are all basically remakes of songs you've heard before. But worse. The transcendental, carefree feel of "Mr. Blue Sky" is contorted into the freaky, poppy and carnival like "Goodbye Mr. A" Cops and Robbers sounds eerily like a song by the Cure.
But overall, the Hoosiers try to produce a solid album with enjoyable songs, because that's what music is about, right? In the process, they lose a sense of originality and trade it for familiarity and fun. But in their case, the fun feels forced, like a fun you've already had before with other, better bands. Listen to this album once for slight enjoyment and then use your knowledge of them to compare to the next big brit -pop act.
Just remember, the trick to this album is not to be too attached to it.