Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Seriously, though. What Did I Expect?

Boys Like Girls: Love Drunk
[Columbia/Red Ink]

Okay, hang on a second. I'm confused. What did I just hear?

Let's back up for a moment. A few years ago, a friend introduced me to a band called Boys Like Girls.

(As an aside, I shall now provide you a frame of reference. This friend is enamored of all things "emo," and tends to be a bit dramatic with his music. He once cried, alone in his car, to a Miley Cyrus song. Make of that what you will.)

The Boys Like Girls of their eponymous 2006 debut were pretty innocuous. They were a bunch of kids playing pop-punk lite; fast, catchy, hook-based and radio-friendly, with high-pitched vocals and the kind of beats and themes that all but guaranteed a teen-driven gold certification. The music was terribly catchy, but held up fairly well even through over-saturation. They were the perfect hit, in that way: pervasive, but not really bothersome.

Returning, now, to Love Drunk, the shiny new Boys Like Girls release: I'm not entirely sure that it's them. For reals, kids. As I labored through a listen, I was not just reminded of, but convinced that I was actually hearing, all of the following: Fall Out Boy, Justin Timberlake, Pink, Carrie Underwood, and any and every American Idol winner and runner-up ever. Boys Like Girls have thrown their identity right out the fucking window. Rather than playing unoriginal music that happened to catch mainstream audiences, they are now trying with all their might to invade the ear drums of every FM radio listener in America. And, predictably, the product of such ambition is over-produced, superficial, and total shit.

I wish that the previous paragraph were more eloquent. I really do. I just can't put together a more graceful description of my disdain for Love Drunk, and I have a feeling that this will continue through the remainder of this review. I decided that I required a second listen, in order to properly eviscerate the record; this was a mistake. I'm distracted by how much I hate it. I swear to you, I just got lightheaded while trying to fight through "Someone Like You" for a second time. The first time these particular vibrations hit my aural cavity and signaled my neurons, I was simply left agape and in disbelief; "My life in the rear view/I'm running from Jesus/Dont know where I'm goin' to/Got nothin' to lose, I'm fightin' my demons/Been lookin' for someone like you," sung over the awful pop-country rhythm...well, there was just no way this could be real. And I was seven songs into this atrocious album when I hit the crest of disbelief. I don't have an issue with the presence of religion in music; music is often meant to be spiritually uplifting. I'm a sucker for a good ballad, too. But, guys--and this applies to this whole record--a little subtlety goes a long way. You've got to understand, folks: I'm the guy who lists "pop-punk apologist" in his bio on this site. In general, I like this kind of stuff. But Love Drunk...it's just...terrible. TERRIBLE.

There are AT LEAST four songs on this album that could be mistaken for Fall Out Boy. Bear in mind that I say this is as a fan of Fall Out Boy--at least they inject a touch of clever subversion and irony into their radio-friendly music. But Boys Like Girls' lead singer (I don't know his name, and I don't care) is trying his absolute damndest to sound like Patrick Stump. Gone is his winsome, youthful voice, replaced with a lower and entirely over-produced sound that I can only assume is meant to confuse children and top-40 morons (to call them zombies, as I'd thought to, would be an insult to the kick-ass walking dead) into thinking that they actually are Fall Out Boy. The remaining seven tracks could honestly have been performed by any of the acts I listed earlier, and they'd sound no different. They'd still sound like they were penned by a professional songwriter for a cookie-cutter performer with the expressed purpose of creating a number-one hit. They're tailor-made for total media overload, for club remixes and ringtones, with lyrics that will make for millions of lame high-school tweets and status updates. Even for a band that was never really good, this is utterly depressing. It's not even that I expected so much more; I didn't. But I certainly didn't expect this level of regression.

Now, by this point, I'm sure that no one reading is even thinking of ever hearing Love Drunk. (In fact, I'd wager that not one of our regular readers would have anyway; but we at TMITM occasionally have to keep ourselves on our toes with tripe like this.) But just to be absolutely sure, I'm going to leave you with "Two Is Better Than One." This is a duet with Taylor Swift. No, I'm not kidding. Dear friends, I need you to know that I do not hate you. I love you all and care for your well-being. But I've suffered, and so must you. You must know. Just push play, and think of this as a character-building exercise; if you make it through the whole song, you are strong indeed. And be glad I didn't upload "Someone Like You."

(Another aside: I have a friend (okay, not really a good friend; a facebook friend; an RA from college) who, a few months ago, spent about three weeks using facebook to express girlish excitement about attending a Taylor Swift concert. He kept posting how excited he was to go see "his girl" in concert. He's 29, married, and--to the best of my knowledge--does not actually know Taylor Swift. Weird? I think so.)

These are two of the biggest stars in pop music, folks. This is the future. Welcome to your nightmares.


Caspar said...

Jesus Christ, Sean. What did I ever do to you to deserve that? Horrible doesn't begin to describe it. I nearly made it through the entire chorus, but then I started worrying there would be a melodramatic bridge and key change, so I had to turn it off. My ears and mind still hurt.

Nice review though!

Sean said...

I applaud you for even trying, Caspar. Quite daring, after my little tirade.

Spender said...

Thirty-eight seconds of valuable listening time that I will never ever recover, thirty-eight seconds that will never be spent listening to the Beatles' mono remasters or The xx.
Thirty-eight seconds in which I realized that the U.S. music industry has come down to this turgid piece of overwrought rubbish that passes for popular music and will likely go to Number One on any number of Clear Channel format charts.

admin said...

I'm forced to listen to Love Drunk at least once a day on my way to/from work. It's extremely popular here. Now, perhaps, you can identify with my rageyness a little bit better.

Girl With Curious Hair said...

The review was good and all but I'm worried about your friend. Are you sure he's ok? I mean someone sitting in a car and crying to Miley Cyrus needs help.

Sean said...

In his defense, he didn't put on her music with the intent of creating and/or fostering an existing sadness. Some silly duet with her lame-ass dad came on the radio, and he was inexplicably moved by it. This, of course, does not make it excusable, but does possibly quell the need for a musical or emotional intervention. He really is a wonderful fellow.

I might add that when he called his fiancee for emotional support, she called him a fag. Everybody needs some grounding, y'know?

Lizzie said...

ok, after reading the review and working on my own of J.Lewis, I needed the laugh that last comment of yours gave me, Sean.

Great review. I'm not going to risk listening to the song, because my ears only stopped bleeding last night.

Felicia said...

Sean--I think you may need to reasess this friendship with the Miley lover. And the Taylor Swift lover? Totally gay.

chris said...

Guh. A few tracks on their self-titled disc and Taylor's "Love Story" are admitted guilty pleasures of mine (glossy saccharine melodies apologist I supposed you'd call me), and even I can't get behind that song, ironically or not.

MelBivDevoe said...

I heard "Love Drunk" today and realized this whole time it's been out I'd assumed it was Good Charlotte. Not a good sign when people mistake you for them.