2 out of 5 Pitchforks
During the summer of 2006, fairly obscure Boston-based band Boys Like Girls released its self-titled album to little fanfare. The band’s charmingly authentic pop-rock songs and tireless work ethic helped it blossom into a chart-topping band.
Three long years of touring and not producing new music left fans salivating with excitement for a new album full of new tunes.
It was obvious the band had a choice as it began recording the new album — stick with simple, charming songs and stay a semi-popular band with underground credibility or produce an album full of radio-ready songs and catapult itself into extreme popularity. It appears the latter was more appealing.
The quartet’s latest album, “Love Drunk,” is a made-for-radio collection of glossy pop songs with huge hooks and trite ballads.
Opener “Heart Heart Heartbreak” sounds eerily similar to a song Bon Jovi would have made back in its prime. It kicks in with a heavy first verse, complete with backing “woah-oh’s” and a huge, arena-ready chorus. The song “Love Drunk” doubles as the first single and is chock full of cheesy lyrics that have already been dominating the Facebook statuses of our lovelorn peers.
“She’s Got a Boyfriend Now” is a nostalgic look back at singer Martin Johnson’s love life, and unfortunately for him we learn that “She’s got a boyfriend, and I’ve got a rock band.” We’re not too sure who the winner is in this little competition, but we can be sure who’s the loser — the listeners hearing this synthesizer-infused mess of a song.
The recently-dissed Taylor Swift lends her talent to the album’s first ballad, “Two Is Better Than One,” and aside from Johnson assuming a faux country “twang” to his voice at various points, it is the first genuinely good song of the album. A string section meshes nicely with the acoustic strumming and gives the song a full sound. Unfortunately, fellow heart-on-the-sleeve ballad “Someone Like You” doesn’t measure up and feels like filler.
“Real Thing” is a fun number and feels very much like a song that would have been popular back in the ’80s. “The First One” is a truly disappointing track and is a case of a band just not trying. The lyrics are teenage poetry — “The first one is the worst one, when it comes to a broken heart,” and the music is painfully boring.
The album wraps up with the six-minute acoustic ballad “Go,” one of the album’s best songs. A common theme throughout the album is the terribly over-produced sound that makes almost every track sound glossy and clean to the point of sounding too good. This stripped down tune is exactly what the album needed — a real, emotion-evoking track that fans could connect to.
The world is sure to be hearing more than its fair share of Boys Like Girls tunes on the radio in the foreseeable future, as this album is full of the polished pop songs that Top-40 stations love, but it’s the band itself that will be losing out. Rather than remaining genuine and sincere, Boys Like Girls chose to write songs designed to garner fame and fortune and ended up sounding like an edgier version of the Jonas Brothers.
At least the boys of Boys Like Girls will have a lot of money and legions of female high school fans after “Love Drunk” propels them into the stratosphere of fame, because it certainly cost them their credibility.
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