REVIEW: Florida Georgia Line – ‘Anything Goes’

Artist: Florida Georgia Line
Album: Anything Goes
Genre: Country/Pop

Filled from front to back with anthems for a generation of music fans that grew up with a cornfield in their backyard and the internet in their pocket, Anything Goes solidifies Florida Georgia Line as an unstoppable force in the world of music.

If Here’s To The Good Times ushered in an age where phrases like ‘bro country’ are thrown around in regards to music sub-genres, Anything Goes proves Florida Georgia Line are capable of writing about things far more meaningful than parties. They still write about those as well, of course, but as “Dirt” makes perfectly clear three tracks into the new album, these guys are no more gods than you or I. They’re people, and while they may have a cooler job than either of us they live for the same things we do. They want a nice home, a beautiful lover, good friends, and a radio station that plays all their favorite songs. The universe of Florida Georgia Line has no place for iPod or streaming services, so don’t bother bringing them with you. Technology only gets in the way of true human connection, and it’s in writing about moments where people truly engage with one another that Florida Georgia Line cultivate their best material.

Anything Goes is also a far more direct record than anything FGL have delivered in the past. There are still metaphors from time to time, but there are also direct references to smoking weed, drinking beer, having sex, and generally cutting loose whenever the mood strikes. It’s not something that becomes grating or overly noticeable with each listen, but in the often conservative world of country music hearing such open dialogue about these topics is a bit of a refreshing discovery. There’s plenty of drinking songs, sure, but how many millionaire country stars can you name who write things as direct as “All I wanna do today is wear my favorite shades and get stoned”? Only one. Florida Georgia Line.

The role of FGL’s country influence is far more prominent on this record, but there is still plenty of pop and even hip-hop in the mix. The group’s love for the classics is as evident as their love of country parties, with the opening line combining the two in one eloquent phrase:

“Alabama on the boombox, baby
‘Bout to get a little boondocks crazy”

The decision to allow one influence to hold sway over the entire record allows Anything Goes to feel like a far more cohesive release without sacrificing the diversity that has become part of FGL’s signature. “Sun Daze” feels like it fell out of a Jimmy Buffet seminar on songwriting, while the aforementioned “Dirt” digs into the significance of the place you call home in a way that feels very much informed by the country mega-ballads of yesteryear. Elsewhere, “Like You Ain’t Even Gone” blends deep bass hits with a driving melody that refuses to quit, while the closer (“Every Night”) takes the band’s ability to integrate top 40 mainstays into their country rooted sound to a whole new level. It’s not reinventing the wheel as much as it is refining it, but it works to create a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience all the same.

Every attempt at evolution is bound to encounter a misstep or two, and while Anything Goes never bottoms out altogether there is at least one track that may take some time to grow on listeners. “Angel” falls in the middle of the album and tries to add a hearty serving of sentimentality with mixed results. The track is heavy with sap, aiming to swoon the same girl that seems to be the focus of all the party songs that made the band famous. The only problem is that this song lacks the fun of that material, and while it may serve as a good slow dance at your next southern themed wedding it just didn’t connect with me the way the rest of the record did. “Confession” exchanges the profession of love for reflection and just a hint of regret, but the results are far better. The verses feel a little weak, but when the chorus hits you know it’s the kind of song that will be performed at every FGL show from now until the end of time.

The country and pop worlds were not prepared for the response people would have to Florida Georgia Line when the duo’s debut album, Here’s To The Good Times, was originally released in December 2012. Two years later, I’m still not sure audiences are completely prepared for what this pair have to offer. Anything Goes is an incredibly catchy and memorable release that is firmly rooted in the world of country music. It builds on the foundation of Florida Georgia Line’s debut without copying the blueprints altogether, and it’s in the sometimes incredibly slight variations that incredible new material has emerged. There is something here for everyone, including those who think country is nothing more than songs about pickup trucks and slide guitar accompanied by loneliness.

SCORE: 9/10
Review written by James Shotwell

James Shotwell
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