Fan Club EP Review: Continental Breakfast In Bed

Dressed In Brown Eyes

This song is “Give A Little” meets Van Morrison and it’s a combination I didn’t know I needed. It’s incredibly catchy, and the harmonica (thanks to John Fullbright) adds the perfect touch. If you listened to the Hanson Time Podcast Listening Party, you might recall Isaac saying this song makes him want to go to a barn dance party, and I promise I was thinking the exact same thing before he mentioned it. Whenever concerts are allowed again, I hope this track will come out of the fan club vault.

Favorite Lyric: “You know I can’t say no… Lord, tell me how to say no to this”… oh. My bad. That’s Hanson mashed with Hamilton. But it’s the lyric I cannot get out my head, real or not.

EP Ranking: 3rd place

Good Days

I don’t know if this song was written before or during the coronavirus lockdown, but it helps me remember to see the positive side of living during a global pandemic, which is taking the time to slow down and truly live moment to moment. There’s a lyric that says to “let the summer wash you like a wave”, and it’s almost onomatopoetic as the song itself sounds and feels like being washed by a wave. The keyboard sounds like steel drums to me, which makes me think of the “everything’s ire” vibe of the Caribbean, and I think that’s ultimately the vibe of this song as well.

Favorite Lyric: “Don’t let a moment pass you by.”

EP Ranking: 5th place

Miss You Like Crazy

This song reminds me of “MMMBop” in that it sounds cheesy at first, but after digging into the verses, you realize there is some depth after all. However, also like “MMMBop”, it’s not my favorite. (Go ahead, throw your stones.) It’s a fun power-pop love song, but I just can’t get into it all that much. It almost sounds more like a Tinted Windows song to me than a Hanson song. (See also: “Cut Right Through Me”.)

Favorite Lyric: “You knew my flaws and you still took me home.”

EP Ranking: 6th place

Everyday (Wedding Song)

As the name suggests, Isaac wrote this song for his wedding, and I’ve been able to hear it live twice: once in 2008, and again in 2018. I’m excited that we finally have a recording of it, as I love how simple and beautiful it is. As Zac joked in the Listening Party podcast, “some of the best things in the world are ooey gooey”, and this song is no exception. The strings are what make this song. Isaac mentioned on the podcast that they had a “proper quartet”, but I’m looking forward to the liner notes to see if he contributed to the cello at all.

Favorite Lyric: “Even through my worst of days you’ve been here for me.”

EP Ranking: 4th Place

Change

I’ll be completely honest with you all, I’m not a fan of this song. Maybe it will grow on me over time and my opinion will “Change” (I can’t avoid making a pun), but when I listen to this, all I really hear is noise. I’ll have to take a look back on it when we get the written lyrics, because I’m having a hard time deciphering most of the verses. That said, the melody of this song is the one that has gotten stuck in my head the most this weekend. My favorite lyric below is really more out of default that it’s one of the few where I know what Zac is singing.

Favorite Lyric: “There’s no time like the present to be all that you can be… whatever that be.”

EP Ranking: 7th place

Begin Again

First, I just have to say I loved getting two Isaac leads on this EP. This song is a beautiful story of compromise, forgiveness, and fresh starts. At first listen, I took it from the stand point of a married couple. But then as I listened to it more, it started to remind me of the song “One” that Zac sang on The Wintry Mix tour and at Back To The Island 2020. While I also initially thought that song was about a marital relationship, on the island Zac said it was about the band (which, btw, he also said about the song “Change” in the listening party podcast). It obviously applies to any relationship, as all relationships cause friction, pain, and the need to forgive and begin again.

Favorite Lyric: “If I were wiser I could learn to talk without telling you what to think.”

EP Ranking: 2nd (but a very close 2nd!) place

All I Know

A handful of Hanson songs have literally left me breathless after my first listen, and this is one of them. While one of my favorite things about Hanson is their harmonies, the choice to have Taylor and his piano and nothing else was the perfect one for this song. Also… on the topic of the piano, can we talk about all those mini trills? Absolutely incredible.

On my second listen through of this song, I noticed that the specific way Taylor sings the words “all I know” sounded a lot to me like the way he sings the words “what I know” in “Young And Dumb”. And then I went down a rabbit trail, and I’m about to take you with me. I think these two songs have a very similar theme, and could be looked at as being the same person at two different stages in life.

First, in “Young and Dumb”, we have this guy who is looking at where he is in life, and he realizes with age and knowledge comes cynicism. He’s looking at a “poor reflection in the review mirror”, stuck in the past wishing he could go back to the naivety of being young and dumb. But now in “All I Know”, he’s saying “I’m done with living in the past”, he knows all the wisdom he’s acquired isn’t enough, and he’s ready to shake off that cynicism and keep trying, even if he keeps failing.

Favorite Lyric: “I’ve had enough, I’m tired of this kind of living. It’s not enough; something is bound to give in soon.”

EP Ranking: 1st place

Overall Impression

I guess I didn’t know that “Worth The Wait” off last year’s In Real Life was actually about Continental Breakfast In Bed. But jokes aside, After Zac’s motorcycle accident and then the coronavirus lockdown put a hold on Against The World and delayed the making of this year’s members’ EP, it was definitely worth the wait for such a high-quality result. Knowing that at least some of these songs were started during the album process last year, I have high hopes for what comes next.

Fan Club EP Review: In Real Life

Compromise

Piano? Each brother taking lead on a verse? Perfect harmonies? Meaningful lyrics? This song has every element that I love about Hanson. I especially like the turn of melody in the verses, the simple combination of keys and acoustic guitar, and the imagery in the verse, “fighting in a ship on the ocean floor, dying over who drowns first”.* I can’t help but wonder how many compromises were made during the writing process. But while it fits the perfect-Hanson-song mold, there’s still something I can’t quite put my finger on that is a slight miss, not-quite-Hanson’s-best-material song for me.

Favorite Lyric: “I don’t want to start a fire, just to watch bridges burn.”

EP Ranking: 2nd place

Worth the Wait

I have to say I’m not really a fan of the obvious church references in this song’s lyrics. (And this is coming from someone who works at a church.) I have a lot of Hanson songs that I associate with my belief in God, but I much prefer when it’s up to the listener’s interpretation. But, I absolutely love the gospel groove in this song; it’s a melody that makes me want to dance around the kitchen singing into a wooden spoon. I think it’d be neat to hear Hanson explore this sound again in the future, but with a different take on lyrics. That said, I imagine “it’ll be worth the wait” to be a fan anthem sung for years as we wait in lines, and for the inevitable Hanson Time.

Favorite Lyric: “And when we reach the end of this life’s struggle, there’ll be a lasting serenade. Because it’s more than just a destination.” (While I’d rather Hanson pass on obvious religious references, this lyric speaks truth to me.)

EP Ranking: 5th place

The Ballad of Seymour Better Times

I first heard this song during Zac’s solo show at Back to the Island in 2018. I immediately recognized the guitar melody from this post on Hanson.net back in August 2017. I immediately loved it and hoped we’d get to hear it on the 2018 members’ EP. While it took longer than expected, I’m glad we have it now. When I first heard the EP version, I told my friend that the song got an “upgrade” from the BTTI version, in reference to the drums, kazoo, and slide whistle. All of these elements are a fun, quirky sound to a uniquely clever song. The churchy-references in this song are way more up my alley than “Worth the Wait”. Which brings me to…

Favorite Lyric: “How long must I roam ’til I can go home?”
Honorable Mention: “Old ladies singing!” is an actual lyric, friends.

EP Ranking: 1st place

Reading Your Mind

Another song I first heard at BTTI, I went into Hanson Day this year excited that I already knew I’d like at least 2 of the songs on the members’ EP. I do not get the creepy/stalker vibes some of my friends have said they hear in this song. All I hear is a sweet song about young love: a boy spending the night with his love, knowing other people won’t understand. If you weren’t able to attend Hanson Day this year, Zac said this song was written for another artist, but that they’d never say who. I may be way off base, but in my mind this confirms my suspicions that at least one Hanson may be a “Ghostwriter” (hello random song subject matter on the “In Color” EP) for (an)other artist(s), and now I can’t help but wonder who it might be.

Favorite Lyric: “It’s so hard to be waiting, thinking of the life we’ll share.”

EP Ranking: 3rd place

Better Days

To me, this song has a Springsteen/Summer of ’69 vibes to it, much like “Somebody Who Wants To Love You”, and I’m not mad about it. I’ve lost count of how many couples I know who started out as young, broke, newlyweds. Every single one of them has told me that they now look back on their life in a tiny, run-down one-bedroom apartment and see a sweet season of becoming stronger together. This is what I imagine this song to be about. It starts off looking forward to “the better days”, but then the second verse references the hard times being the better days. I can’t speak from any first-hand experience on this, and I may be way off course, but I think it’s a perspective I haven’t heard Hanson write from before, and I like that it’s something different. Overall though, this song is just okay to me. I wish we had another verse or more lyric-filled chorus over the excessive repetition that “better days are coming.”

Favorite Lyric: “We fight and seek, just trying to live up to our potential.”

EP Ranking: 4th place

Overall Impression

In Real Life is a quality fan club EP, and I think I’d rank it somewhere slightly above middle of the stack. I really like 3/5 of the songs, which is more than I’ve liked on the past couple EPs. But, I like the one or two good songs (“Somebody That Wants to Love You”, “I Don’t Want To Go Home”, “Young & Dumb”) from the past couple years more than I like the three good songs from this year.

*Maybe it’s because my parents bought a boat and I started sailing around the same time I became a Hanson fan, but I love every water/boat reference Hanson has. A few that come to mind: Save Me From Myself, Save Me, What Are We Fighting For