Boys Like Girls

Love Drunk

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Boys Like Girls' self-titled debut album was an unexpected success, eventually going gold. Devoid of any hit singles or a truly distinctive sound, the album seemed to catch on because it was a perfect distillation of the emo pop sound with no rough edges to scare people away. For the follow-up, 2009's Love Drunk, the band sticks to the same basic template of super slick, glossily produced emo pop with uptempo songs that sound stadium singalong-friendly and ballads that seem destined to melt teenage girls' hearts. The difference this time is that the songs are better-written and hookier, especially the rockers. "She's Got a Boyfriend Now" and "Contagious" sound like 2000s updates of the classic '80s sound of pop/rockers like Bryan Adams and Rick Springfield; "Real Thing" even conjures up the red leather and headbanded ghost of Loverboy. Strip away a few of the modern things like Auto-Tune and programmed drums, and there you are. These very catchy, super fun rockers comprise two-thirds of the album, the strongest part of the record and a definite improvement over the debut; it's the other third of the record that poses a problem. The band dabbled in balladry on the first album, but they weren't the kind of syrupy acoustic guitar and violin weepers that are on display here. The three songs that slow things down on Love Drunk slow things down to a complete stop and threaten to derail the album entirely -- a case in point being the truly terrible "Two Is Better Than One," which features vocals from Taylor Swift and sounds like something Diane Warren would have shelved for being too trite and formulaic. The other two aren't much better, and they sound like the work of a completely different band. Take them off the record and you're left with a very good pop/rock record with emo leanings. Leave them on and you need to do some programming. Either way, this is a much better record than their debut -- and that in itself is an impressive feat.

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