Personnel: Martin Johnson (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, ukulele, percussion, programming); Paul DiGiovanni (electric guitar, 12-string guitar, mandolin, background vocals); John Keefe (drums, percussion, background vocals); Alex Makhlouf, Jean Paul Makhlouf, Kyle Moorman (programming); Morgan Dorr (background vocals).
Audio Mixers: Chris Lord-Alge; Andrew Schubert; Brad Townsend.
Recording information: Cash Cash Studios, NJ (11/2011-05/2012); Killingsworth Studios, Studio City, CA (11/2011-05/2012); Kung Fu Gardens, Hollywood, CA (11/2011-05/2012); Littlebox Studio, Glendale, CA (11/2011-05/2012); Red Bull Studios, Santa Monica, CA (11/2011-05/2012); The Lodge, Studio City, CA (11/2011-05/2012); The Village, Santa Monica, CA (11/2011-05/2012); WEstlake Studios, Los Angeles, CA (11/2011-05/2012).
Photographer: Cameron Rad.
On their last album, Boys Like Girls made the unspoken connection between emo-pop and country-pop into something more tangible by performing a duet with Taylor Swift. Both styles share a radio-ready slickness, a tenuous connection to the sound they're derived from (punk, country), and teenage love-lost lyrical angst, no matter the age of the singer. It's surprising more bands haven't made the attempt to cross over, but on Crazy World, the group mostly leave emo-pop behind and dive headfirst into sleeveless, dusty country. Though there aren't any fiddles to be heard, there are plenty of twangy guitar licks, harmonicas, rhythms perfect for line dancing, nostalgic songs about diners and high school, and a song "Red Cup Hands Up Long Brown Hair") that manages to fit in lyrics about rag tops, drinking beer from plastic cups, and sunbathing on the hood of a car. The only thing that keeps this from sounding like a Jake Owen album is the lack of southern accents, but that would have been hard for a bunch of ex-punks from Boston to pull off. What the album most sounds like is a goofy, brodacious version of Taylor Swift's Red, only with more programming and less heartbreak. It's an open question whether any fans of the group's hooky stadium emo will follow them as they travel south of the Mason-Dixon line; odds are quite a few might feel betrayed by the change in direction and the nagging feeling that maybe the group may have sold out just a little in pursuit of a new audience. It'll also be interesting to see if any country fans will climb onboard. The band certainly throw their arms wide open in welcome, crafting the laboratory-perfect, good-time emo-country-pop hybrid experience that'll sound very good blasting out of rag tops and 4X4's, if not a moody teenager's bedroom. ~ Tim Sendra