Music - Walk

It's hard to hear The Walk from end to end without wishing the brothers Hanson could go back in time and undo the career-stunting megahit that was "MmmBop." If it wasn't for that 1997 song, catchy and guilty-pleasurable as it was, the boys would be well on their way to winning over the kind of committed audience a disc as focused and fine-tuned as this one deserves. There's nothing particularly high-minded here (excepting the single "Great Divide," a downloadable track whose sales will benefit an African orphanage), but each song radiates a level of pop-rock accomplishment that surpasses most anything you'll hear on top 40 radio. Hanson, in fact, has more in common with acts like Fountain of Wayne and Amos Lee these days than anybody you'll see strutting across a TV screen in skin-tight pants. Highlights on a disc without a single dud include "Georgia," contemplatively sung by Taylor, and "Running Man," an addictive Squeeze-meets-Beatles rock ditty co-written by Zac. In its 15-year history, Hanson has won the right to talk the talk about the hardships and satisfactions of maturing musically; The Walk backs that talk up beautifully. --Tammy La Gorce