Hobo Johnson and the Lovemakers released their long-anticipated second album on Friday, September 13th, 2019 titled The Fall of Hobo Johnson. Despite a Friday the 13th release, the album has proven to be anything but unlucky, charting on iTunes at #12 for a moment according to an Instagram post made by @ben_hurr, one of the Lovemakers, on September 14th.
The Fall of Hobo Johnson is very much a sequel to the band’s debut studio album The Rise of Hobo Johnson. With album titles like those, there is an obvious connection between the two works. Maybe that’s what makes the newest album even more special.
The viral success of “Peach Scone” by Hobo Johnson (specifically the NPR Tiny Desk performance of the song) last year may have contributed to a fleeting popularity among some, but many people- including myself- stuck around. It was during this era that “Peach Scone” reigned on social media news feeds everywhere and garnered serious attention, falling nothing short of (as the debut album title states) a literal rise.
And a fall it may be, but perhaps in the best way possible. After all, it did give us songs like “Sorry, My Dear” and “February 15th,” both of which are intense and emotional. They’re hitting rock bottom in the best way.
This album unearthed another layer to the band’s sound, one that still revolves around poetic and unconventional expression of emotion through music. This style that Hobo Johnson has cultivated of I-can’t-tell-if-this-is-rap-or-if-I’m-crying remains, but The Fall of Hobo Johnson is without a doubt an evolved version of the band’s music. It’s the 2.0–the upgrade. Some artists will do a complete 180 and take a second album in an entirely different direction. They become afraid of being stagnant, of people getting bored, so they change entirely- sometimes not for the best.
Hobo Johnson and the Lovemakers said a big nope to that and built off of what they had already started. They took a mansion and turned it into a palace.
We still get quirkiness and the raw, blatant truth. In fact, there is a near-perfect balance of silly, anecdotal lyrics and the earth-shattering, emotionally charged ones. The man can go from singing about Justin Bieber and wanting a dog to some pretty dark stuff. He’s the only guy who can basically spit out a Subaru commercial at the end of a song and make me want to listen to it on repeat (seriously, Subaru, sponsor him). Even some of the “fun” stuff is symbolic if you dive in deep enough. It provides fans with multiple ways of listening to his music, both on a surface level and with an analytical, introspective approach.
Songs like “Happiness” and “February 15th” provide a level of familiarity that any Hobo Johnson fan can recognize. Upon release of the first single from this record, “Typical Story,” it was clear that the band was looking to play around with a new musical sound, at least for some of the songs on the album. The album features more collaborations as well. I’m totally here for the Jack Shoot and Jmsey feature on “Ode to Justin Bieber.” The album is different–it’s more upbeat and edgier–from anything fans have heard from them before, but not different enough we wouldn’t recognize it. It just sounds…right.
The Fall of Hobo Johnson is a self challenge executed successfully. Not only does it live up to the hype, but it surpasses it. The album digs even deeper (than we thought possible, to be honest) into music and lyrics and balances harmoniously both the old and new. It’s the perfect recipe for anyone who fell in love with songs like “Peach Scone” and “Romeo and Juliet,” but is growing right along with the band as they grow into their sound. There’s a song for just about every mood, but frankly, your mood is probably all of them.
Just a couple listens of this album would have literally anyone’s Ruby Tuesdays tasting like Benihana’s. (Check out Hobo Johnson’s “Mover Awayer” and you’ll understand.)