The Hanson brothers are not letting a lack of a record deal stop them from releasing this CD on their own and trying to prove to the world one more time that (a) they are all masculine men and not two pretty girls and their ugly brother singing like people insist they are since they came out with that song years ago and (b) they are grown-up now. They still look like two pretty girls hanging out with an ugly brother so I don’t think those gun-totting honky-tonk Crosby and Nash fans will want to seen buying this CD. It’s a pity because fans of country and adult contemporary rock are the ones who will most likely enjoy this CD the most.
The lead single Penny & Me, for example, is such a simply constructed but too catchy song that is just a representative preview of what Underneath has to offer: breezy songs to listen and sing along to especially when one is driving. There are bouncy rock tunes like Dancin’ in the Wind and Get Up & Go which are begging to be played on fine summer days, alongside with staple ballads about heartbreak and grief such as Believe. Okay, so there is nothing there that I haven’t heard before on any country or rock station but Hanson knows how to make music that sticks to the head and won’t let go.
A warning about listening too closely to the songs though. The pretty boys may know how to craft killer choruses but their lyrical skills are still in need of improvement. Lines like “birds in the trees just make me depressed… seeing sunning skies, feeling emptiness” threaten to ruin any illusion of growing up that Hanson is trying very hard to sell. Other than that (and a lack of originality), there is nothing wrong about this collection of infectious pop-rock country ditties. The boys may have grown up, but the mmmbop is still alive and bouncing.