Who can forget Hoobastank’s 2003’s Grammy nominated hit ‘The Reason?’ The band, which hails from Agoura, Calif.—the neighboring suburb of Los Angeles that brought you Incubus and Linkin Park—hasn’t had the same success since the release of their second album by the same name. They have released three studio albums since, toured with Velvet Revolver, opened for Creed’s reunion tour in 2009 and found themselves back on the Billboard 200 chart with 2012’s Fight or Flight (Open E). Teaming up with producer, Matt Wallace (Faith No More, Maroon 5) the quartet is back trying to stay relevant with Push Pull (Napalm).
The album starts off with the eclectic, ‘Don’t Look Away’. It’s a mix of grungey guitars infused with gleaming percussion in the background. Doug Robb’s vocals set the mood that is felt throughout the album: funk-infused subtle melodies. The title-track, ‘follows boldly—with an easygoing melody that rocks steady. The first single, ‘More Beautiful’ comes after as a low-pitched, repetitive, radio friendly track.
The band has expressed their influence from the eighties and nineties, so covers of two Tears For Fears songs, ‘Head Over Heels’ and ‘We Don’t Need The World’ which come later in the album, don’t come as a surprise. Both covers are very laid back and are good covers overall; reflecting on Goth Rock tendencies, though perhaps only one would’ve sufficed here… ‘True Believer’ showcases guitar riffs by Daniel Estrin that deliver on Garage Rock riffs while the vocals are played safe.
The optimistic ‘Just Let Go’ showcases Robb’s vocals as they develop to their full extent, ‘Better Left Unsaid’ comes in heavy and is reminiscent of Hoobastank’s earlier days of ‘Crawling In The Dark’ from the 2001 debut. Chris Hesse’s drums here on this track are heavy but it is on ‘Buzzkill (Before You Say Goodbye)’ that the groovy bass lines from Jesse Charland send you a shockwave with its high power energy—a fan-pleasing number. The energy does decline with ‘Fallen Star’ but gets turned back on with the last track ‘There Will Never Be Another One’, where the electronica elements make an interesting radio-friendly track.
Push Pull has decent moments—enough to entice radio-friendly audiences but not enough to capture new audiences. Hoobastank is not playing safe here, delivering on funky tunes and heavier sets, but they’re not making hits like the throwback band they have become.