The Tinted Windows debut hasn't even been available for two hours yet, and I'm already opinionated. I'm sure this comes as a shock.
So. Poking around a few reviews (Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Spin), and the general consensus seems to be that this isn't a killer, incredible debut, but it's certainly far from the trash that the naysayers (i.e. Hanson-bashers) expected it to be.
First of all, let me say that this is the first full album I've downloaded from iTunes, and I didn't know they came with little digital pdf booklets. That's neat. There's something to be said for downloading an album the moment of its release from the comfort of my own small-town home.
So. The actual music. Unless you have an ear injury, it should be painfully obvious already that 'Kind of a Girl' is pretty spectacular. There are a few songs on this record with a similar intensity: 'Messing With My Head' and 'Can't Get a Read On You' fall into that category. In the middle, there are handful of slightly slower songs that I'll have to listen to a couple of more times before I can say anything intelligent about them, other than that they seem a bit more Ivy-esque than FOW-y. The only dud is 'Cha Cha', which James Iha is responsible for. Part of my problem with it might be my aversion to nonsense syllables. It's executed well, but I don't really like the lyrics, and it's pretty repetitive, so they're repeating something that isn't that great in the first place. It's worth noting, though, that as my least favorite song on the album, it's really not all that bad.
As a long-time Hanson fan, my perusing of critics' opinions sparked some Hanson pride. I've been bothered by how much of the reaction to this band has been along the lines of 'the Hanson kid? the one that looked like a girl oh my gawd mmmbop sucked', but both Rolling Stone and EW singled out Taylor Hanson's single track as 'terrific', and one of their 'best cuts'. Between that and 'Cha Cha', I'm going to defer to whatever critic pointed out that Iha, and not Hanson, is the weak link in this quartet.
Of course, Schlesinger serves us some trusty power-pop, as we've come to expect from him. (He is behind most of the songwriting on the record.) My only request, after listening to 'Take Me Back', which he co-wrote with Hanson, is that he please collaborate more. Churning out hits individually is more tricky, but he blends well with other styles.
It is HIGHLY IMPORTANT to note that, despite the fact I think he co-writes well, Spin needs to stop referring to such an endeavor as a 'collabo'. NOT OKAY.