Having passed out during Hanson’s historical 1999 Bob Weir summit at the late Wetlands, this critic can attest to the inexorable power of the towhead trio from Tulsa. Many believe their escape from Planet Teenybop is less miraculous than the Mousekabimbos’, Taylor Hanson’s channeling of prime Michael Jackson inferior to Timberlake’s. But slept-on sophomore run This Time Around, with its Latin rock and gospel flourishes, already proved Hanson most likely—along with Christina Aguilera—to enjoy longevity.
Flaunting horn-drenched hidden tracks Ryan Adams would kill for, and trademark sun-kissed, fraternal harmonies, Underneath begins a little shiny, although the single “Penny & Me” is undeniably gorgeous. Side B gets spookier and richer: “Deeper” goes deep; “Broken Angel” spins Zac as pre-tabloid Jacko in the hands of Van Dyke Parks instead of Q. As for “Lula Belle,” Brian Wilson must be weeping somewhere. While still awaiting elder Hanson Isaac’s desert freak-out certain to yield a solo masterpiece on par with Astral Weeks or at least Rick Nelson’s “Garden Party,” this perfectly pitched record reveals that these hardworking brothers’ valiant quest for independence shall be rewarded. Meanwhile, rumors of Jimmy Castor’s re-emergence signals a great production opportunity, boys.