"Trainwreck" (Ferret; 2005)

Reviewed by Ray Van Horn Jr.

Into some dark corner this side of The Virgin Suicides did Ontario pop punksters Boys Night Out dwell for their third album, a direct about-face from their jovial and frequently hilarious Make Yourself Sick.  In many ways, Trainwreck is far superior to its predecessors, even with the maudlin tone the album sets lyrically.  Though there still exists trademark emo hollering and wailing, Boys Night Out digs deeper musically, branching into some seventies and eighties pop riffs and melodies, particularly on the effervescent choruses for "Dreaming," or the surprising new-wave synths and Rick Springfield-like choruses and bridges that make the next song "Waking" a blatant piece of bubblegum rock.  After a tranquil opening, "Composing" likewise transforms into a sugary and singable tune, even as it dabbles maniacally in psychosis.   It's a bit unsettling when you read the disturbing narrative in the liner notes that delve atmospherically into the horror of suicidal behavior; prefaced by the bold-capped declaration, "These lines I wear around my wrist are there to prove I exist." It makes one wonder how Boys Night Out dared to sound so joyful within its palpable dirge.

This is no longer punk rock; this hybrid that Boys Night Out has formulated takes upon itself a heavier feel that never skimps on the opportunity to inject tuneful splashes atop its moody subject matter.  "Medicating" is so catchy it's easy to let its feelgood groove sugarcoat the melancholic and schizophrenic muses they present.  Similar to Armor for Sleep, Boys Night Out expels mature and harmonious rock that offsets their manifestly alarming lyrics. 

Granted, "Purging" accelerates the schizophrenia up a notch by appropriately creating a manic and hard-driving soundtrack to coincide, and yet the sedate middle section calms the song down momentarily before hijacking it for a wild finish.  As Boys Night Out began tinkering with ballads on Make Yourself Sick, so does it return on Trainwreck in the form of "Relapsing," which builds to a climactic close.  If you're beginning to see a trend with the track listing that is minus the long and clever titles on Make Yourself Sick, what Boys Night Out opts this time around is a series of transcendental moments of being.  In some ways, Trainwreck thusly employs the dark humored brilliance of the now-canceled Six Feet Under into its roundabout rock style and Boys Night Out becomes an altogether different band than what stepped into the studio to record this album.  

What Boys Night Out has accomplished with Trainwreck is noteworthy stuff.  Call 'em emo if you want, it's probably unavoidable at this point in the genre's life cycle, but Boys Night Out has created a solid and appropriately two-faced album that will be sure to have many people discussing its dual purpose throughout the rest of the year.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 2005 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 25 Feb 2019 21:42:45 -0500 .