Review Summary: Looking at Boys Like Girls, you might think that they are just another catchy, dime-a-dozen pop-punk band. Listening to just a few seconds of any of their songs this opinion may stick in your mind, but if you look past the sugary production and abundant
I first heard about Boys Like Girls through a random string of visits to various band’s Myspace pages. Although this may not be the best way to discover good music, considering it’s rather hit-or-miss, I thought I had found something good in Boys Like Girls. Since I was hooked by the song “Hero / Heroine”, I decided to go out and buy the album. When I put it in my CD player, however, I was skeptical, because there was a good chance I would be disappointed. Nevertheless, I found that this was a solid, albeit somewhat repetitive, fun to listen to album.
The first track, “The Great Escape”, begins as one of the stronger tracks on the album, and a good indication of whether you will like BLG’s sound. It begins with a verse with a tight drum beat and some good vocals, although the singer’s true talent is not unleashed until the chorus. When he sings, “Throw it away / Forget yesterday / We’ll make the great escape”, his vocal talent is really showcased. He has a huge range and reaches all the notes confidently. The closest vocalist in the industry I can think of to compare him to is Chris Carabba of Dashboard, but his voice is too unique to compare to any one person. Although a tad nasaly, as is a requirement in pop-punk, he has a clear, easy to listen to voice. After “The Great Escape”, BLG doesn’t waste any time in rocking out on the next track, “Five Minutes to Midnight”, with a catchy chorus and more great singing. A good track, but nothing amazing.
The next notable track comes next in “Hero / Heroine”, the song that got me hooked on BLG. Starting with a clean guitar part and a rather typical drum beat, the song establishes itself early on as a slower ballad-type song. However, the song really shines when it gets to the first chorus, with the singer confidently reaching into his falsetto over an electronic beat and the same guitar part as the intro. Although nothing extremely innovative, the lyrics in the second verse are catchy, singing “I won't try to philosophize /
I'll just take a deep breath then I'll look in your eyes… I got a closet filled up to the brim / With the ghosts of my past and their skeletons”. This is all in all a great song, with the singer’s great vocal range and lyrical talent at the forefront. “On Top of the World” is also an anthem of sorts, with the chorus saying “Let’s spend tonight on top of the world / And we can do anything / We can be anything”. Again, not anything profound lyrically here, but a catchy and fun song nonetheless. The next track, “Thunder”, is another ballad-like song, and it’s pretty good. It’s a nice change from the fast, catchy songs on the album and it seems like there was some thought as to the order of tracks. It’s a very sweet love song with touching, albeit stereotypical, lyrics, “Your eyes are the brightest of all the colors / I don't wanna ever love another / You'll always be my thunder / So bring on the rain”.
After “Thunder” comes another one of my favorite tracks, “Me, You and My Medication”, which begins with an awesome electronic beat reminiscent of The Postal Service. I love the lyrics in the chorus, “Me, and you, and my medication / (Making the best of it) / Love is just a chemical creation / (Will it be permanent?)”. The song also has a great breakdown/bridge, with a cool synthesizer part and more vocal talent. Another expression of BLG’s lyrical skill comes when the singer sings, “We’re all addicted to something that takes away the pain”. All in all one of the strongest tracks on the album. The next track, “Up Against the Wall”, can’t exactly be described as dark, but it is probably the darkest on the album, and to me this is a great change. It’s a great song, and the chorus has pretty good lyrics, with “Who said that it's better to have loved and lost? / I wish that I had never loved at all”. During the verses, the vocals are sung with octave harmony, which creates an awesome effect to listen to. This song could almost be likened to Cartel in its level of poppiness. Throughout the whole album, BLG’s ability to write hooks is showcased, because there are few songs on this album that won’t get stuck in your head.
“Dance Hall Drug” is one of those songs that you love to listen to, but you don’t know why it’s good. Although nothing on the song is necessarily profound or technically difficult, it’s fun to listen to, albeit stereotypical. It is a tad repetitive, as is the next song, “Learning to Fall”. This song gets a bit tedious to listen to, because it feels like you’ve heard it previously on the album. Although it isn’t a bad song, it isn’t as good as the rest of the album. It’s much too stereotypical of any pop punk band, and doesn’t showcase BLG’s talent that can be seen elsewhere. “Heels Over Head” is another song that is fast, catchy, and fun, but it pulls it off by having good lyrics and great harmonies. The first verse begins with, “I got your runaway smile in my piggybank baby / Gonna cash it right in for a new Mercedes / You were worth the hundred thousand miles / But you couldn't stay awhile”, and shows the band’s ability to write lyrics with plays on words and catchy hooks. The bridge of the song is another example of BLG’s skill in writing catchy lyrics, with “You're a chance taker, heartbreaker / Got me wrapped around your finger”. “Heels Over Head” is one of the better songs of the fast, catchy variety on this CD. The vocals and instrumentation match the lyrics perfectly, and it’s a strong song.
After this comes another slow song, “Broken Man”, and it’s a solid track. The vocal harmony in the chorus is pretty great, and the mix of acoustic and electric guitar in the song is very well done. Finally, we come to the close of the album with “Holiday”. This is definitely the slowest song on the album, but it is very well done, and a perfect end to the album. Much like “The Great Escape” prepares you for the overall fast pace of the album, “Holiday” winds it down perfectly. Clocking in at 5:08, this is a very well-crafted song. Although it is very long, none of it gets tedious to listen to, with slow drum beats and layered guitar parts a-plenty. As the song is winding down, they reiterate the lyrics from “The Great Escape”, “All of the wasted time / The hours that were left behind / The answers that we'll never find / They don't mean a thing tonight”. Although this is not a new technique, it is used to perfect effect here and gives the album a great sense of closure.
All in all, Boys Like Girls’ self titled debut is a great, catchy, fulfilling pop-punk experience. Although they falter occasionally and fall into a rut of sounding stereotypical, for the most part they deliver a solid set of songs. Even if the songs may get repetitive, it is a good release and one that should not be missed. Highlighted with very strong vocals, catchy music and fun, well-written lyrics, Boys Like Girls sets themselves up for a good career making music.
The Great Escape
Hero / Heroine
Me, You and My Medication
Up Against the Wall
Heels Over Head