If you're like me, and you're so sick of sellout popcore New-New Age dancetronica bands that you could vomit, you'll be very happy to hear that Boys Like Girls' self-titled album is nothing like that. Upbeat but not campy, cute but not saccharine, and with melodies that are bound to get you rocking out in your seat/vehicle/spot in the checkout line, BLG is simply good alt-rock that makes you remember why you got into the scene in the first place.
        Take "The Great Escape," the first track, for instance. A concise, relevant song title; a catchy-as-hell chorus with a great vocal harmony; splendid instrument work all around, especially drums: what's not to love? It's a fantastic choice for an opener. It grabs your attention and doesn't let go, like a good pitchman. "Oh, so you like this? Here, let me show you what else we've got..." And the one-two punch is completed with "Five Minutes to Midnight," which has a bassline to die for.
        The third track cools it off a notch (anyone who has memorized the last few lines of
High Fidelity should smile here). It's a great love song with none of the sappiness that usually banishes love songs to the level of only being played at middle school dances. Same with the absolutely stunning "Thunder."
        I really like that "Up Against the Wall" and "Learning to Fall," though thematically two of the unhappier songs on the record, don't slow down the pace or become dampeners that don't fit in. "Who said that it's better to have loved and lost? I wish that I had never loved at all" and "Today's the day, the worst day of my life" are sung with the same fervor, and the power chords are strummed with the same intensity as the first two tracks. BLG stays true to what they establish at the very beginning of the album. Nowhere on this CD will you find a track that feels like the guys went, "Okay, let's write a song that's suitable for this demographic group." It's a very... heartfelt record. This is the cue for anyone who's read one or more of my other reviews to roll their eyes and say, "Andrea, you say that about every CD you like." Then I say, "That's why I like them."
        "Heels Over Head" is another one of my favorites. I'm a sucker for references to California and delicious harmonies and rhymes, and this song has all of those. "Holiday" begins making you (or me, at least) think that it's the downer track that I said this album didn't have, but it surprised me just in time. The last track is significantly slower, but it is in no way a downer; it's simply a calm, beautiful ending to a great album.
        I will not be surprised in the least if Boys Like Girls' fanbase explodes like rabid bunnies after the release of this fantastic debut. Keep an eye on this band, and grab the record before everyone else does--not only for loads of indie cred, but for an amazing listen as well. For anyone reading this in August 2006, by the way, check out all the bonus stuff we have for this album, since it's our featured release! There are song lyric explanations and more available via the Features page.
A.A. '06
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Red Ink/Columbia

1) The Great Escape
2) Five Minutes to Midnight
<< 3) Hero/Heroine >>
4) Top of the World
5) Thunder
6) Me, You and My Medication
7) Up Against the Wall
8) Dance Hall Drug
9) Learning to Fall
10) Heels Over Head
11) Broken Man
12) Holiday
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