By Alexander Boddie, Contributor
[Reprise Records; 2019]
Key tracks: “Mover Awayer”, “Subaru Crosstrek XV”, “February 15th”
Hobo Johnson returns with his second studio album, The Fall of Hobo Johnson. The Sacramento native continues his emo hip-hop style of music and delivers more of the same with his latest work, minus the references to his favorite basketball team: The Kings.
The 12 track album carries many of the same themes as his previous work, such as love, heartbreak, and insecurity. Johnson pairs his spoken word/slam-poetry delivery with his overly angsty lyrics on The Fall of Hobo Johnson, making the album feel melodramatic.
The second track, “Mover Awayer”, perfectly encapsulates what a typical Hobo Johnson track sounds like. The chorus is incredibly cliche and corny as he whines about a girl, and the lyrics tend to be unbearable, as he delivers lines like “She makes my Mondays feel like Fridays / She makes my Ruby Tuesdays taste like Benihanas.” Some listeners might find this song endearing, but most will find it hard not to cringe. On a positive note, Johnson seems to have more structure in his songs and sounds less like he is improvising the lyrics as he goes.
A track that stands out is “Subaru Crosstrek XV”, which is a nice change of pace from the rest of the album. The track sticks to more traditional themes found in rap music, such as sudden success and materialism. However, one starts to realize that it is still very much a Hobo Johnson song as he will still often delve back into some goofy lyrics. That being said, the song does consist of a few humorous lines that may produce a soft chuckle here and there.
“February 15th” is the angstiest song on the album, consisting of a lonely guitar and an even lonelier Hobo Johnson. On the track, he wallows in self-pity and attempts to explain why he will allegedly be alone forever. His insecurities and constant self-depreciation get old fast, which makes the track feel repetitive even though it is under two minutes.
Although the music from Johnson’s backup band, The Lovemakers, is quite good, Johnson’s lyrics and voice usually soil it on The Fall of Hobo Johnson. His true downfall is his unbearable tendency to repeat himself over and over again. Other than a few exceptions, Johnson “raps” about the same themes in just about every song, and these themes are also heavily present in his previous album, The Rise of Hobo Johnson. Fans of spoken word poetry may find some redeeming qualities in this album, but for fans of music, there is much to be desired.