CD Review of Every Man for Himself by Hoobastank

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Every Man for Himself
starstarno starno starno star Label: Island
Released: 2006
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I think we all saw this coming from Hoobastank (whom I will now refer to as “The Stank”) after the overblown success of their previous album, 2004’s The Reason. That album wasn’t all that bad, but the title track took on a life of its own and now, upon hearing it, I feel like crashing through my sliding door and jumping off my balcony whilst yelling, “Corporate assclowns! Corporate assclowns!” The Reason at least had a few songs with some bite and attitude. With Every Man for Himself, the Stank has repackaged “The Reason” for about ten of the thirteen songs. This is sickeningly catchy, meticulously crafted corporate rock hand-prepared by the suits at Island Records.

The album opens with “The Rules,” which is simply a military drill sergeant barking orders. My eyebrows rose in what-the-hell-is-this-fashion, but the lecture actually leads to one of the album’s best tracks, “Born to Lead.” With a decent pace and a solid lead riff, I suddenly became interested and found myself hoping that the Stank would break down the walls and prove to the suits that they could release another successful album on their own accord.

Those hopes were dashed about three minutes later. With the exception of the aforementioned “Born to Lead” and track nine, “Don’t Tell Me,” this is the slowest, most monotonous album the Stank could have possibly made. Every song outstays its welcome by at least a minute, as vocalist Douglas Robb repeats his choruses to submission. This pads the record out to an insufferable 51 minutes, thus occupying our lives with the same catchy tunes about personal issues to the point that I thought I needed psychiatric help.

Robb and guitarist Dan Estrin write independently, but often collaborate on the duties as well. The lyrics throughout are mostly about relationship problems, individual problems, and other assorted problems. The only song, lyrically, with any balls is the frank “Inside of You,” which basically summarizes Robb’s thought process when trying to hunt down some ass. What it doesn’t address is when he approaches his prey and she says, “Who are you?”

The Stank will inevitably sell heaps of copies of this album. Robb can sing, and the band can craft a catchy song about as well as any modern mainstream rock band out there. If that’s your bag, this album is for you. There are those of us who can see through the smokescreen and realize that the real Stank is probably gone forever. They’ll be strumming carefully crafted radio-friendly ballads until they fizzle out. Personally, I’m hoping they’re taking lessons from Fred Durst on how to make that last part happen virtually overnight.

~Bill Clark