fans hoping that For(n)ever
(or, as it is also called, Fornever
) will contain another killer pop ballad like “The Reason” will be disappointed – the band’s fourth album is a sleek, rocking affair that doesn’t have any big, sappy sing-along love songs on it. In their place, frontman Doug Robb and his partners have crafted a mostly tuneful collection of angst-heavy numbers about bad girlfriends. For(n)ever
probably won’t match the sales heights of previous Hoobastank records, but ironically, it’s one of their better efforts.
Crank Up the Melodrama
Hoobastank had their greatest success in 2004 with “The Reason,” a sentimental ballad about realizing what a jerk you are who doesn’t deserve the wonderful woman you’re dating. The trio haven’t had as huge a hit since, but that song’s central themes – love gone wrong and self-esteem issues – have been singer Doug Robb’s bread and butter since the group’s 2001 debut. For(n)ever definitely does not represent a newfound maturity for this band – Robb is still whining and ranting about his cruddy love life – but it does find Hoobastank amplifying the melodrama to dizzying, rewarding effect.
Turning Angst Into Guitar Workouts
Rock music is filled with singers complaining about their exes, so the trick is having a frontman whose laments feel justified. Doug Robb achieves that about half the time on For(n)ever, and a good example is the hard-charging “All About You” where he lets his little lady know that she’s a self-absorbed brat. Robb’s putdowns are aided immensely by Dan Estrin’s guitar, which ranges from tense strumming to volcanic power chords in the course of about a minute. Likewise, the album-closing “Gone Gone Gone” merges Robb’s fevered invective with Estrin’s funk-inflected riffs before transitioning into another rousing chorus. Hoobastank’s juicy hooks help validate Robb’s incessant assaults, making the listener think he has a good reason to be so grumpy.
Hoobastank Still Have a Sappy Side
When For(n)ever calms down for a few melodic tunes, the results are album highlights. A bouncy keyboard drives the melancholy “Tears of Yesterday” – as always, Robb is up to his eyeballs in romantic misery, but the song is unique in its wistful tone. On “So Close, So Far,” yearning guitars highlight a rare moment when love could still work out, if only the couple weren’t separated by geography. While there’s nothing as undeniably sappy as “The Reason” on For(n)ever, Hoobastank still have a knack for mushy sentiment – frankly, the band should explore this side of their personality more often since the results are so winning.
Hoobastank's 'For(n)ever' - Bottom Line
, Hoobastank have hit upon a largely successful formula for catchy angst-rock songs that will be perfect for people dealing with broken hearts. The album may be light on truly revelatory moments, but the high level of craft suggests these guys have strong recordmaking instincts, even if they’re not gonna be the chartbusters they were several years ago.
Best 'For(n)ever' Tracks:
“Tears of Yesterday” (Purchase/Download
“So Close, So Far” (Purchase/Download
“Gone Gone Gone” (Purchase/Download
“All About You” (Purchase/Download
Release date – January 27, 2009