The momentum that Boys Like Girls had going into their fourth studio album, Sunday At Foxwoods, was probably a bit more positive than the band could’ve expected. Having not released any music as a band since 2012, Boys Like Girls could’ve gone in a number of ways, creatively. The Night Game was keeping lead vocalist Martin Johnson busy with a project after Boys Like Girls went on a hiatus, and this 2023 version of the band feels like a marrying of styles and sounds between everything the band members have done (both as solo artists, and as a creative unit). Sunday At Foxwoods is a thrilling return to form for a band that found some early success with their self-titled debut, peaked commercially with Love Drunk (that had a key song feature with a young artist known as Taylor Swift), and they experienced some creative growing pains on Crazy World. The vinyl reissues of Boys Like Girls and Love Drunk seemed to reinvigorate fan interest in the band’s fourth studio album, known as Sunday At Foxwoods, that is kicking off the next phase of this talented pop-rock band.
After a brief, atmospheric introductory song on the title track, Boys Like Girls rock with veteran poise on “The Outside.” It features a stomping, anthemic chorus of, “It’s okay, it’s alright / Baby welcome to life on the outside / Sleep all day, ride all night / Yeah we’re living it up on the outside,” that reminds longtime fans of the band of the magic that happens when these four musicians get together to create music. While longtime lead guitarist Paul DiGiovanni is no longer a part of the band, Jamel Hawke does the band justice by taking over the reins on guitar.
The pulsating drums from the other original band member, John Keefe, is felt far and wide on songs like “Language,” that rocks along with an 80’s new wave sound, married with the pop sensibilities of Fall Out Boy. The excellent lead single of “Blood and Sugar” is exactly what happens when Martin’s The Night Game project bleeds into the songwriting process of Boys Like Girls, and I’m 100% here for it. The hook of, “Even though the girl’s a looker / We’re only blood and sugar, right?” is well thought out pop rock music that keeps interest in the band high.
More reflective songs like “New Love” and “Miracle” reminded me a bit of what The Maine did, mood-wise, on their latest self-titled album, with equally-pleasing results. The latter track takes a cool, grooving bass line from Gregory James and loops Martin’s vocals around it much like a friend you haven’t seen in years coming in for a long embrace. The piano-laced ballad of “Cry” is just great songwriting in general, and showcases the band’s collective growth and ability to show restraint when they need to grab a certain feeling or mood in their music.
After a few brooding tracks in the middle section of the LP, “Physical” brings back the momentum from the earlier songs, and matches the whole album aesthetic and artwork just perfectly. The synth-heavy song feels like a blend between early-The 1975 paired with the guitar rock bliss of Van Halen. “Hourglass” takes a brief step back in the mid-tempo ballad realm, while “Story of a Lifetime” brings the guitars to the forefront of the production into a rewarding chorus of, “Carry me, carry me / Show me thrill or fantasy / I’m feeling lost, feeling weak, feeling bind / Carry me, carry me / ‘Cause I’ve been walking in my sleep / Feeling scared, feeling free, feeling fine / Story of a life time.”
Boys Like Girls add in some strings sections on “Brooklyn State of Mind” as Martin sings on the first verse, “All the crosses on the highway / Make a runway in the street / And just like any given Tuesday, pull up at the valet / Take me to my seat / I was born inside a black car / A little bag under my coat / We’re counting paper in the backyard throw it off the deep end / To see if it will float / Oh cause I want it all,” in a reflective manner that brings more context to the story the band wants to share. The closing ballad of “Lost in Wonderland” is a great acoustic guitar-based song that closes out this latest chapter of the band’s history with grace and poise.
While some fans may not like the brooding, mid-tempo, 80’s feel of the sound they went for on this record, it just feels like the album they were destined to make given all the creative outlets and band member changes that went on. The remarkable thing about Boys Like Girls is that they took their hiatus to heart, grew and learned from it, and ultimately came back stronger than ever on Sunday At Foxwoods.