The former teen-idol brother trio, still making albums as grown-ups, sounds on this new record tougher, grittier and altogether alt-rockier than the kids who released the infectious hit single "MMMBop" 16 years ago.
The album begins with Zach's rugged guitar riffs on "Fired Up," while singer and keyboards player Taylor demonstrates how rich his pipes have gotten with the seasoning of age. His angelic vocals always had a studied soulful twist, but apparently his experience in the pop-rock supergroup Tinted Windows—which also featured members of Cheap Trick, Fountains of Wayne and Smashing Pumpkins—has honed the edge of his instrument.
Power-pop winners such as "Juliet" and "Already Home" sound clear and sharp, so well-crafted you almost take them for granted. "Get the Girl Back" is credibly funky and features a sophisticated arrangement, pumped up with a righteous horn section. "Cut Right Through Me" has a subtler R&B bounce, but could also fit in on any number of "serious" pop-rock albums by anyone from the mighty aforementioned Cheap Trick to the Gin Blossoms.
The shout-along vocals and attractive melody of "Scream and Be Free" are nestled in an irresistible charged rocker that brings to mind the bombastic school of U2 and Coldplay. It's an excellent, um, anthem.