Pay the Girl is a Cincinnati quintet with a refined alternative sound reminiscent of the Verve Pipe or Matchbox 20. Led by the strong, if not particularly unique vocals of Jason Phelps, the band also features guitarists Mark Cooper and Dave Harris, bassist Drew Phillips, and drummer Greg Braun. Their self-titled, major-label debut for TVT is a collection of mid-tempo pop, polished to a high-quality sheen by four producers in three different studios. It's the musical equivalent of reading Entertainment Weekly; engaging while you're concentrating, but ultimately unmemorable. The single "Freeze" features a can't-miss vocal hook that will sound great coming out of a car radio; "Beverly" will also, since it nicks the guitar riff from Third Eye Blind's "Semi-Charmed Life. But the middle of the album bogs down with the too-clever songwriting exercise of "Junkie" (sample lyric: "I will smoke you in/get high off your soul") and the Nickelback-lite of "I'm Not Like You." It becomes clear down the stretch of their debut that production trickery can't save the majority of Pay the Girl's songs from being simply mediocre. Nevertheless, it's music that sounds good in arenas. This fact wasn't lost on Pay the Girl; they toured with Colombian pop princess Shakira in early 2003.
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus