Fight or Flight

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Departed from Universal Records, Hoobastank stake out an independent route, hiring Gavin Brown to helm their fifth album, Fight or Flight. The title alone suggests a bit of a bristle in Hoobastank's backbone and the album proves this to be true: this is a leaner, tougher record than they have made in years, a crisp black-and-white photo standing in contrast to the highly saturated colors of their earlier major-label work. Apart from that crisp, muscular production, not much has changed within Hoobastank: they still pledge allegiance to the emotional bloodletting, insistent power chords, and a backbeat scaled for an arena, but all of this has been resized for an intimate setting and the results are effective, perhaps the most immediate music they've made. Hoobastank still have a tendency to be a bit ponderous in their compositions -- a trait that surfaces not only on power ballads but on rockers so angst-ridden they belie the group's age -- but Brown keeps the group focused, steering Hoobastank toward an assured, mature update of their signatures.

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