Album of the week
It is not the fault of the teenage brothers Hanson that their mighty and infectious hit “MMMBop” unleashed the torrent of cookie-cutter boy bands and girl torch singers that has engulfed the pop charts since its 1997 release. The three-chord ditty swept grunge from the charts and stuck bubblegum back on the pop bedpost. Now all of those who bounced to Hanson’s infectious beat three years ago want to know if the boys deliver the catchy goods This Time Around. Well, fans wishing for an “MMMBop” remake will be disappointed, but this is still an admirably ambitious follow-up to the group’s 8 million-seller debut album, Middle of Nowhere. The sibling trio’s vocals have lost much of their high-end chirp—voice-changeling drummer Zac is 14 now, keyboardist Taylor is 17, guitar-twanging Isaac is 19—and boys being boys, they feel the need to flex their muscles as a power-rock band. Think ’70s-era Frampton without the vocal phaser. The music is generic, but it’s also propulsive and fun and brimming with harmonies. Plus they write all their own songs, play instruments and can’t dance a lick. When the *NSYNC boys grow equally bold, congratulate them by having them over for a six-pack of near beers.
Bottom Line: Growing, with minimal pains