Label: Universal Music Group
Release Date: December 4, 2012
Hinder are back with their fifth release, Welcome to the Freakshow. Prior to the release, there were rumors that this one would be far different from anything the band had done before. Lyrically, it has a lot of similarities to past releases, but musically, it’s very different in many ways. The record contains more elements of pop, and even has one track, which we’ll get to later, that I could have seen Rascal Flatts or Keith Urban recording a few years ago. Too far of a departure from their normal sound? The fans will be the judge of that. For this fan, it has its bright spots, and many spots that make me think it should have been done under a different band name entirely. To clarify, my complaints aren’t with the vocals or lyrics, but with the music itself. With each prior release, starting with 2003’s Far From Close, up through 2010’s All-American Nightmare, the band has evolved its sound. Not sure I can legitimately say the same for this album. So, let’s get the track-by-track analysis rolling!
The CD kicks into high gear with the hard-rocking “Save Me”, which was the first single released from the CD. This is good rocker; basically telling all comers to not tell the writer how to live his life, and unless you have wings like an angel or are God himself, don’t even bother trying to save him. Austin Winkler (vocals) delivers his typical snarling, gritty vocal work on this one. A nice start.
“Ladies Come First”, though fun lyrically, and sure to be a strip club party anthem, is where the CD gets musically questionable. A decent guitar riff, but Cody Hanson’s use of electronic, synthesized drums is a bit much for me. First time I heard it, I thought it was a Stabbing Westward or Nine Inch Nails cover. Lyrically, fun song. Instrumentally, really obnoxious.
“Should’ve Known Better” is about that one girl that you know you shouldn’t be with, but you can’t resist. That ex you don’t get over, and keep messing with. Lyrically, we can relate. Musically, it starts out a bit too poppy for my liking, but kicks in to power ballad mode during the chorus.
“Freakshow”, essentially the title track, rocks. Unfortunately, it’s our society in a nutshell. Everyone’s got issues, and everyone wants to use the Internet and reality TV to get their 15 minutes of fame. Musically, possible the best rocker on the CD. Reminds me a little bit of “All-American Nightmare”. Great song.
“Talk to Me” is a song we can all probably relate to, particularly us guys. It’s about that great love we had, but ruined by not communicating, by not talking enough. Musically, good, but almost sounds a bit too much by “Unity” off Shinedown’s most recent CD. Not a bad thing necessarily, but not very original. But, again, lyrically and vocally, great work.
“Get Me Away From You” is a pop song with rock lyrics. Very similar in theme to “Lips of An Angel” or even the aforementioned “Should’ve Known Better”. Definitely a top-40 radio hit in the making.
“Is It Just Me?” had me thinking, on the intro, that were it not for the lyrics, it could’ve been any of the teen pop artists, not a rock band. Okay song, but one I will likely skip when listening to this album in future. Way too poppy for a rock band.
“I Don’t Believe” is a favorite for me on this CD. Ultimate power ballad. It’s a song about finally finding the right one, but not wanting to fall in love unless it’s that person, but not wanting to scare her off either.
“See You In Hell”, to me, has a definite Buckcherry vibe to it. It’s sort of the counter to The Righteous Brothers’ “Rock N’ Roll Heaven”…Talks about how all the fun celebs, particularly Janis Joplin, Marilyn Monroe, and others are in Hell, so the writer will see you there. As a song, it’s fun…Admittedly, based on my own personal beliefs, I certainly hope and pray none of the Hinder crew ends up there. So, it’s a fun song about a place that you really don’t want to end up. A discussion for another time and another website.
Anyone But You” is the track that doesn’t fit this album, or Hinder at all. This is a modern country song, plain and simple. Add just a tiny bit more twang to the guitars, and you’ve got a country single. Good song…Just not a good Hinder song. Give it a year, and someone in the country genre will cover it if the band doesn’t release a country mix themselves. Lyrically, the song’s about not wanting anyone but that person, and being willing to do just about anything to patch things up. Actually, it really reminds me of “What Hurts the Most” from Rascal Flatts.
“Wanna be Rich” is another one that talks about modern American society, and our mentality…But musically, way too synthesized, particularly with the drums. It’s a good song, but needs to be more organic in the instrumentation. If I wanted this style of music, I’d pull out one of my Orgy or Stabbing Westward albums.
The Best Buy version has five additional tracks; four acoustic versions and one “alternate” mix…Definitely worth picking up as the acoustic tracks are pretty good. In fact, the “alternative Mix” on “Ladies Come First” is much better than the version they actually chose to include on the album. More of a hard rock song.
I realize I’ve been pretty harsh in my views on this album. Anyone who knows me well knows I’m generally a big fan of these guys, but this CD is a musical disappointment. It’s still worth buying for the songwriting and Miles Winkler’s vocal performance. In order to rate this album, I had to look at it from both the musical and the lyrical angles, and average the two out. Lyrically, it’s classic Hinder, and what we’ve come to love and expect from these guys. Musically, it’s a huge let-down…Though, in fairness, if it were a Miles Winkler solo album, or a new band entirely, I’d probably give it higher marks. But for a Hinder release, it’s just not that good.
My rating on the vocals and songwriting is an 8 out of 10. Unfortunately, on the music, I can only give it a 5 out of 10.
Overall Rating: 6.5/10
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