There was a time when you couldn’t turn on a radio station without hearing Hoobastank’s “The Reason”, a single which gained quick popularity – and the album was great to boot. As was typical when 2000-era rock bands had mega-singles, their follow-up tended to fall under the radar (take 3 Doors Down as another example) and 2009’s For(n)ever went by mostly unnoticed. Now, nine years later, Hoobastank is preparing to release their sixth studio album, Push Pull, leading with the single “More Beautiful”. The band are looking to make a comeback in the rock industry, and this time around they offer a significantly different listening experience from their previous recordings. So, longstanding Hoobastank fans, buckle up!

First impressions show the album contains a somewhat more pop style to it, which is a turn to some degree. While Hoobastank have always produced catchy songs, they veered more towards the rock realm with past efforts. Several songs on the album are extremely poppy, such as “Just Let Me Go”, “Push Pull” and “True Believer”. Push Pull is reminiscent of a Maroon 5 album, which is fine, but that’s what you have Maroon 5 for. It’s a bit strange that this album has gone so poppy, considering the band worked with Napalm Records, a decidedly metal label. It’d be interesting to hear more from the band about how they ended up in this direction.

Once you get past the pop sheen, there are a couple of positive areas on Push Pull, one being the song “Buzzkill (Before You Say Goodbye)”, which is definitely the closest to the rock genre and easily the heaviest track on the album. The song is reminiscent of some of the For(n)ever album, which was decent though underrated. There’s also the always-strong lyric game that should be expected from Hoobastank; several songs on the album provide solid lyrics that hit home, as in “More Beautiful”: “I know who are inside, you’re all that I need / Don’t listen to the voices saying otherwise / Look into my eyes, listen to me”.

Here’ a glimpse of the Maroon 5-esque “Push Pull”

For longtime fans, this record will probably be a lot to swallow. There isn’t really a standout song, and while it’s cool to hear that Doug Robb has the high range, it feels like they tried too hard to use it. “More Beautiful” is lackluster – even if the lyrics are decent – and some may honestly have trouble telling if it’s Doug or a woman joining them on the song. While the music can be catchy and get your head bopping and foot tapping, it leaves a lot to be desired in quality, which is especially disappointing when the group have so clearly shown what they are capable of on past records.

Hoobastank appear to have taken a misstep with the direction of this album, which will probably be met with mixed feelings, but fans who are amenable to the poppier elements will definitely enjoy this more than the rock contingent.

Push Pull Track Listing:

01. Don’t Look Away
02. Push Pull
03. More Beautiful
04. Head over Heels
05. True Believer
06. Just Let Go (Who Cares If We Fall)
07. Better Left Unsaid
08. We Don’t Need the World
09. Buzzkill (Before You Say Goodbye)
10. Fallen Star
11. There Will Never Be Another One

Run Time: 41:01
Release Date: May 25, 2018
Record Label: Napalm Records