September 04, 2009 - Columbia
As in any well-structured argument, Boys Like Girls front-load their latest musical thesis in the first moments of Love Drunk’s title track. A shimmering, textured guitar line gives way immediately to huge gang vocals. They're reaching for both U2's anthemic grandeur and the populist immediacy of the pit. Slick production values, airtight harmonies, charging disco-rock beats and crowd sing-along prompts (a trick they resort to throughout) prove the band are capable of condensing the recognizable signifiers of recent modern-rock history into sugary pop adrenaline. That's before we even get to the unfortunately employed Auto-Tune on “Heart Heart Heartbreak.” BLG certainly had a lot of success on Top 40 radio last time around, but just because they've moved into Sean Kingston's neighborhood doesn't mean they have to paint their house the same color. Who produced this record, Michael Bay's CGI team?
But fans of the perfectly distilled emotion and songwriting economy of tracks like “Great Escape” and “Hero/Heroine” from BLG’s self-titled debut know that overly slick production is par for the course with this band. When they’re setting up giant hooks and blasting off in their the tightly wound verse/exploding chorus formula as on “Contagious” and “Chemicals Collide”-and, okay, pretty much every other song on here-the shine of the wax job doesn't matter as much as how fast the car is hurtling down the road.
“Real Thing” switches gears a bit with its ’80s-underdog-film training-montage vibe. Dudes out there looking for the perfect track to, say, overcome their fears and learn to be themselves just in time for the big wrestling match or whatever should throw on this one. If the cello-enhanced ballad “Go” doesn't get even the most hard-hearted BLG fans in the crowd holding hands and swaying together in harmony, then nothing will. And if Love Drunk’s overall enthusiasm and high-energy pop doesn't win over even the snarkiest of reviewers after a few listens, then they probably don't have a heart. Everyone else will love it anyway. Pop-rock like this is popular for a reason. (COLUMBIA) Luke O'Neil
GO DOWNLOAD: “Love Drunk”