Boys Like Girls“Crazy World,” available now
Boys Like Girls formed in 2005 and offered up an excellent self-titled release that proved to be incredibly enjoyable and garnered them quite a following. Even the band’s second release, “Love Drunk,” was a relative success, though admittedly less enjoyable. This time around, it appears the band has abandoned almost all of their original sound in favor of something empty, leaving old fans alienated while probably drawing in a different breed: the country music fan.
“When did Boys Like Girls become a country music band?” It’s a question one almost can’t help but ask as they listen to the band’s latest release “Crazy World.” Granted, the tempo is slightly faster than your traditional country music album, but not so much that images of Rascal Flatts and its “new” country contemporaries don’t flash through your head as you listen to it. Listen to “Shoot” just once and you’ll instantly think of five country music artists with similar releases.
Perhaps we should’ve seen the warning signs when lead singer Martin Johnson did a duet with Taylor Swift on the band’s previous release “Love Drunk.” Once a band starts releasing crossover singles, it runs the risk of crossing all the way over. A perfect example of this on “Crazy World” is in the title track, when a harmonica makes an unfortunate appearance in a song that will probably make its way to radio and become inexplicably popular because the DJs play it every hour until everyone pretends to like it.
What makes the album even more irritating is when you start to hear other bands in their songs so much that you forget it’s even Boys Like Girls you’re supposed to be hearing. “Stuck In The Middle” comes across as some kind of Coldplay-OneRepublic hybrid, with Johnson temporarily abandoning a country twang not found in the band’s previous releases for the quiet high notes made famous by the previously referenced bands.
In all honesty, there are probably hundreds of songs on your iTunes that would be better to listen to this album, even the ones your friends don’t know you have on there. Boys Like Girls should be remembered for their early work, not this vapid filth. This is your warning: If you’re not a fan of the new wave of country music that’s permeating the airwaves, avoid “Crazy World” at all costs.
Kyle Drapeau, For The Sun News
Bruno Mars“Unorthodox Jukebox,” available now
Having never listened to Bruno Mars before, there was no way to know what to expect. “Unorthodox Jukebox,” is his third major release. With no exposure to his previous releases, what’s impressive about this album is its musical range. It seems to bounce everywhere from R&B to pop to rock to soul. Essentially, it’s an excellent exhibition of musical fusion.
The album’s opening track, “Young Girls” is a powerful pop ballad with a small dash of soul, but quickly transitions to something in the spirit of reggae and funk with a techno sound in the next song, “Locked Out of Heaven.” As the album progressed through the next several tracks, it became apparent that trying to pigeonhole Mars to just one genre is useless. He jumps from the clearly funk-inspired “Treasure” to “Moonshine,” which sounds like it could have been an intro to an 80s movie.
Next is the piano ballad “When I Was Your Man,” an ode to every guy’s regrets of relationships past. It’s here Mars will win a few people over with his vocal range. He doesn’t go to glass-shattering heights, but he shows his range regardless. Once again, he kicks up the tempo in the next song, “Natalie.” It’s almost as if he doesn’t want his listeners getting too comfortable with any one particular speed or sound. Normally, this kind of thing can be grating, but in this case. it works. This change in tempos and styles continues over the remaining few songs.
It’s hard not to consider this album a success given the ability of Mars to own several genres. The lyrics are catchy and the music makes you want to dance. Considering that music was created to elicit these feelings, it’s recommended you grab a copy of “Unorthodox Jukebox” as soon as you can.
Kyle Drapeau, For The Sun News
Green Day“Tre!,” available now, as well as this year’s previous two releases, “Uno” and “Dos”
There are a couple of ways to look at Green Day’s decision to release three albums over the course of six months. First, there’s the positive view that if you’re a fan they’ve given you more than 30 songs to loop in your iPod or CD player over the coming weeks and months. Second, there’s the negative view that what they’re doing is oversaturation of the market in attempt to remain relevant. Frankly, that fear should be unfounded as this band has already maintained success for more than two decades.
However, according to Alternative Press, the decision to move “Tre!” from its original January 2013 release date was made after Billy Joe Armstrong entered rehab in September. This resulted in the postponing of the band’s tour and the release was pushed up to keep momentum going from the releases of “Uno” and “Dos.”
Whereas Green Day’s previous release, “Dos,” was quick and harkened to the band’s early days, “Tre!,” is noticeably slower, though not always to the album’s detriment. The pacing is comparable to songs like “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” or “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” though these latest releases use a full accompaniment of instruments.
The problem with this album is that it lacks the flow of its predecessors. Not that this argument is that all songs on an album should sound the same, but transition between songs is not to be undervalued, as it seems to be on “Tre!.” Uniqueness is something to be valued in the music industry, with so many cookie-cutter artists crawling out of the woodwork, but an album still needs some level of consistency.
Ultimately, though the songs are enjoyable and Green Day is still going to find its fan base growing with each release they put out, this album is the least enjoyable in the trilogy, with the key word being “enjoyable,” not “least.” If you already love Green Day, this album won’t do anything to change that. If you don’t, the same is true.
Kyle Drapeau, For The Sun News