Ingrid Michaelson – Girls and Boys

Ingrid Michaelson
Girls and Boys

Ingrid Michaelson’s sophomore release, Girls and Boys, is a pretty straightforward album of pretty pop songs. The New Yorker plays guitar and piano and writes airy tunes about love and relationships. Michaelson is backed by a full band offering guitar, bass, organ, drums, and backing vocals as well as a host of guest musicians on selected tracks. On the surface this setup and style is nothing groundbreaking, but sometimes really good music doesn’t have to be.

Girls and Boys opens with “Die Alone,” a quirky number with a cyclical, jangly guitar riff throughout and an interesting intro that echoes back and forth. This catchy song is a great way to begin the album as it softly showcases Ingrid’s sweet voice as well as a crack at an attention-grabbing arrangement. “Starting Now” is the type of pop song that is easy to sing along with and will surely get stuck in your head. The piano ballad “Corner of Your Heart” is starkly stunning and makes for an appealing contrast to more intense songs such as “December Baby” or “Highway.”

Musically, there are a few songs like “The Hat” and “Overboard” which are quite enjoyable but the lyrics just don’t seem as…well, full-bodied or as well hewn. Perhaps it’s simply because the subject matter here focuses on Ingrid’s childhood and first love, but there is something else here that doesn’t sit as well with me as compared to the other tracks on Girls and Boys.

If all of Ingrid Michaelson’s songs were as finely crafted as “Die Alone” this album would raise the pop music bar just a bit higher. As is, Girls and Boys is quite good and with a few more years of experience Michaelson’s music could be breaking new ground. Avid pop fans, particularly those that dig things on the softer side, will surely enjoy this solid effort.