Hinder, ‘Welcome to the Freakshow’ – Album Review
Hinder exploded upon the scene with their 2005 debut ‘Extreme Behavior,’ which sold over 3 million copies and spawned five singles that landed on the rock charts including the massive hit ‘Lips of an Angel.’ Their following two albums also did well and had top 10 rock singles, and now the Oklahoma band returns with their fourth effort, ‘Welcome to the Freakshow.’
That title is somewhat misleading, suggesting an album filled with wild and crazy upbeat songs. There are a couple of those, but ‘Welcome to the Freakshow’ is very ballad-heavy. It’s also the most diverse Hinder album to-date.
You’ve likely heard the opening track ‘Save Me’ on the radio. It’s up-tempo and packed with hooks. It’s a great opener, and one with a lot of meaning for frontman Austin Winkler. ”I had just gotten out of rehab for drugs and alcohol and I revisited the song,” he says. “To me, it felt like I didn’t need anything negative like drugs. Those aren’t going to save me. I can save myself though.”
‘Ladies Come First’ is not quite as deep. It’s vintage Hinder, a good-time track that’s heavy, but also melodic and extremely catchy with racy (some would say dirty) lyrics. The title track is also edgy and aggressive, with Winkler’s trademark raspy vocals and a nice guitar solo from Joe Garvey.
The middle section of the album doesn’t measure up to the first few songs. There are a couple generic ballads and the poppy ‘Is It Just Me’ that has some clever hooks but not much depth. Hinder does rebound during the last part of the album with a couple of standouts.
‘See You In Hell’ references late great celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin, has a call-and-response chorus and is destined to become a staple at live shows. ‘Anyone Like You’ is another ballad, but it has a country flavor, making it more distinctive and less slickly produced than the rest of the ballads on the album.
The closer ‘Wanna Be Rich’ has a lot of electronic elements and is downright dancy in spots. In some parts of the song the electronic influence is subtle enough to co-exist with the band’s guitar driven style, but other times it takes over and sounds out of place.
There are songs on ‘Welcome to the Freakshow’ that are among the best Hinder has ever done. But there are also some misfires and filler that detracts from the overall quality of the release. Hinder are at their best when they showcase their own distinctive sound, and too often on this album the song quality is there, but their identity is obscured.