There was a time in the mid to late 2000’s where the “emo” scene was the place to be for music lovers, tweens and teens almost exclusively. Bands such as Panic! At the Disco, Fall out Boy, My Chemical Romance and The Academy Is… invited listeners in with the promise of unburdened emotions, pretty vocals and even prettier boys. Sure, even then fans could predict which bands would have longevity and which would slowly disappear (though few would have guessed that the only Panic! Member to stick around would be lead singer Brendon Urie), but it didn’t matter because the love that each one generated en masse was so bountiful that it created a timeless fissure where nostalgia fueled adoration would lie for ages.
As the 2000’s continued however, the train of quality bands started to loose steam, we began to get the bands that would go on to take the place of the predecessors as mere echos of what made those bands so special. Even groups that had existed in the 2000’s such as Cobra Starship, All Time Low and Paramore became watered down, even more radio friendly groups than they had been prior. They were playing the game, playing it smart, and it’s tough to argue against that.
Then, there were groups such as the Boston based Boys Like Girls which got lost in the shuffle, in that awkward in-between period.
Admittedly, I was a fan of this band. I even watched the documentary made about their tour. I couldn’t tell you now without the aid of the trustee internet what any one of their names were. Their first, self-titled album was released 10 years ago in 2006 and helped launch them into quick success with poppy tunes and, aesthetically, picture perfect appeal to the crowd that Warped Tour was beginning to cater towards. They were marketable across the board. They also managed to separate themselves from their musical peers with songs that didn’t take themselves quite as seriously as something by FOB and lacked the operatic posturing of MCR and instead was simply trying to make ear friendly songs that stuck around in your head long past when you’d listened to them. They succeeded in creating an immensely enjoyable album if not one that made head spins or reinvented the music wheel.
The album starts out on a high note with “The Great Escape”, a lyrically simple song but one that has great build up and release to it’s chorus and bridge, with singer Martin Johnson demonstrating his distinct vocals. The album also manages to achieve something many wouldn’t consider all too extraordinary but certainly helps in cementing themselves as a band that at the very least left an impression, and this is that their first five songs or so all blend and grow in a way that you can’t listen to “The Great Escape” without listening to “Five Minutes to Midnight” immediately afterwards-it’s not a shuffle album. While far from being conceptual-the band name quite literally lays out what they’ll be singing about 90% of the time.-there is a assured layout of which song goes when in order to keep up the momentum. It means that by the time the ballad “Thunder” comes on we’re ready for a slower paced single, especially coming after “On Top of the World”, a more somber piece of songwriting for the group that takes on a more sweeping sound. And after, the band dives straight into “Me, You and My Medication” which takes the role of being the bridge to the later half off the album which may not have the cohesiveness of the first half but offers up some gems regardless.
“Learning to Fall”, despite some nonsensical lyrics at the start is endearingly similar to some 90’s pop groups in terms of it’s catchy nature and chorus that is impossible to shake once you’ve listened to it. “Holiday” their closing tune perfectly encapsulates what their main motif had been up to this point, give or two a song talking about the lead singers mother being ill or teen recreational drug use, which was to sing about their relationships with women. “Holiday” is an ode to starting fresh after being burned before and dealing with what it means to be a new relationship.
Boys Like Girls might not have left an incredible mark on the music scene-few bands from the era aside from the BIG ones did-but they created a perfectly enjoyable debut album that demonstrated an ability to write some genuinely catchy songs. Sometimes that’s enough.