Review Summary: They always tell you to stay away from drugs because they are bad and potentially addictive. That same statement certainly shares some parallels with Boys Like Girls.
Over the last few years, pop punk is a genre that has been getting quite a bad rep. After all it seems that every day the genre becomes more and more trend and appearance oriented as opposed to having its focus on the music. This is really no surprise in the long run. Than again, the words long run and pop punk typically don’t mesh together so well. The overall experience is on the back burner as the ‘instantly love it’ choruses and easy to digest riffs and progressions take the front focus. And rather than scribble off countless names, lets just say that Boston’s own Boys Like Girls seem to have the same approach. Their music is simplistic, yet undeniably catchy. It sucks you in off of the first listen and echoes in your head for days to the point where it is a nuisance. I say that in the sense that this record forces you to swim in the shallows. Musically there is rarely any sort of depth or originality. By all means this should be a record which would get three spins max and become a dust collector. Sadly there is something about this record which just makes difficult to put it down.
I say something in the sense that I’m still trying to figure it out. Like the dime a dozen acts they use the typical song format. Most songs calmly open with a simplistic lead line and suck listeners in slowly. The lead line comes out during the verses which usually consist of palm muted guitars or one acoustic guitar and one electric playing darn near the same part. Things very soon crescendo into a huge open chorded chorus, before repeating, tossing a bridge in and ending with an extra dramatic last chorus. Despite a formulaic approach, this record has numerous enjoyable and fun pop punk jams. Their hit single “The Great Escape”
is one of the catchiest songs you’ll ever come across. Despite lacking any sort of musical depth, it rocks a four chord progression and screams out ‘play me’ on a Friday afternoon after a long work week (school week if we are basing this off of the group’s primary audience). “Two Minutes to Midnight”
rocks a three note main riff, features a palm muted verse blended with the famous stop start octave chords and of course features a high vocal ranged chorus. Some smooth vocal harmonies come out on a seemingly laid back yet energetic chorus in “On Top of The World”
which marks another basic yet pleasing. The final chorus here features a slight key change which really marks a nice surprise.
Now Boys Like Girls and surprise will not be used much in the same sentence at all when describing their music. However, contrary to their peers they don’t play 12 songs with entirely the same sounds, hooks, and dynamics. I say this in the sense that there are a fair amount of softer songs present here. The surprise is they are some of the best tracks on the record. “Thunder”
is the token acoustic ballad regarding a summer love. While on paper plenty of the lyrics to this song appear cheesy, the delivery of them is rather convincing. After the acoustic jam listeners will expect the ‘pick things back up’ song. They will also be very surprised with “Me You and My Medication”
. It keeps a fairly slow tempo and features some great samples along with one of the best choruses on the record. Vocals really shine on almost all of the sustained notes. If you can tolerate a high and borderline whiny range this will certainly be right up your alley. The album’s final track “Holiday”
is another slow jam which features some great clean guitar work. Vocals really dig in during the chorus and hit a high range but the whiny tone seems to stay away which is quite pleasing on the ears. The violins present add a nice touch without making things overly dramatic as the group composes another excellent mellow track.
I’ll give credit where credit is due; Boys Like Girls does seem to know the genre of pop punk quite well. They go for a formulaic approach, play things extremely safe, and end up with any easy to digest debut. The fact that the group lacks any real instrumental creativity is overshadowed by their undeniable catchiness way more than it should. “Heels Over Head”
has just about every cliché element you can imagine; a palm muted guitar with vocal intro, a clean guitar section of the verse, stop start guitar rhythms, and the lovable ‘clap your hands while we repeat the chorus downbeat’ bridge. The real shame is not how formulaic and predictable it is but more so how it is actually enjoyable. However, tracks like “Dance Hall Drug”
are just too poppy for their own good with their overly standard guitar rhythms and far too smooth progressions. When this occurs their gimmick becomes quite obvious. But in reality, Boys Like Girls self titled record does a great job of bringing catchiness factor at a nonstop pace. Coupled with a small handful of impressive slower tempo tunes, the end result is more pleasing than it should be. After telling myself such phrases including “I won’t like this in a week”, and “This is just a phase band”, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that these guys are a guilty pleasure. Shucks.
The Great Escape
On Top of the World
Me You and My Medication
Heels Over Head
Final Rating: 3/5