Album – Life Rolls On
Florida Georgia Line are a country duo from Nashville, Tennessee who began in 2010. The two are one of the biggest country bands in the world, with their debut single, Cruise, spending a whopping 24 weeks at #1 in the US and at the time becoming the best-selling digital country song of all time, and the first individual country song to be certified platinum. Having released four albums as of 2019, all of them reaching into the top 5 of the billboard charts and having a combined total of nearly 10 BILLION streams, they are one of the biggest modern acts of any genre. Fast forward to 2021 and their much anticipated fifth album, Life Rolls On, has just been released. Anyone who follows my reviews or knows me knows how big a country music fan I am, and how big of a fan of this band I am, too. I’m looking forward to finally checking this out in full!
Long Live starts off the album strong with an awesome acoustic guitar riff, another one that’s so simple that it’ll be stuck in my head for days now. The lyrics soon come in and as usual it’s ‘bro-country’ through and through, managing to mention both pickup trucks and bear within the first few lines. It’s easy to listen to party music, though, even if it has been adopted by the masses more these days. There’s the typical huge, stadium-filling chorus too, massively catchy and easy for the crowds to sing along to and associate with, really no matter what your walk of life. There’s also a pretty great, although far too short, guitar solo after the second chorus, too. It’s as simple as the rest of the song but damn, it fits the feeling of the song so well. It soon goes into the typical stripped back, simpler chorus before building to the second big standard one before it ends. The same structure as every other big radio-country hit, but no one can quite do it quite like these two. Playlisted.
Another song, another great guitar riff with Life Looks Good. Again, the lyrics soon kick in over the riff, talking about alcohol and tractors almost immediately. We quickly reach the chorus and I actually think I prefer this one over the first one. It’s a little slower and stripped back, less anthemic and radio-baity than Long Live, and the call and response backing vocals work wonders. It’s more of a love song, too, which I find myself enjoying a little more than the millionth party song from modern country bands. Again, we follow the same formula and structure to the previous song, though, heading into a good but far too short guitar solo after the second chorus before a final chorus ends the song off on a great, smooth harmonised vocal note. More inoffensive, safe country music, but it is still damn enjoyable and I’ll proudly admit I’m a sucker for it.
Countryside is a nice change of pace from the previous two songs, slower and clearly a leaning a lot more into their hip-hop influences than the rock side of things. It opens on a beautiful couple of guitar chords before some drum samples come in over the top. Both the verses and choruses have some awesome vocal harmonies between the two guys, adding some much-needed depth to the simpler, stripped back song. The lyrics are still the same old topics, though. Another great, catchy chorus, and I do believe so far, they are just getting better and better. They also don’t even attempt a solo here too, which was probably a good thing, doing a short bridge before heading straight into a final chorus. Instead of ending it there this time the instruments slowly drop out until we are again just left with the guitar from the intro, a nice touch. Another easily playlisted song!
Always Gonna Love You feels like the first true ballad of the album, slow and stripped back during the first verse before exploding into a typically huge chorus afterwards. The drums kicking in for the second verse was a nice touch and added variety, a technique that rock ballads also employ to great effect. A great song but there isn’t a lot I can really say about it, the verses were beautifully simple while the chorus was huge and as catchy as ever. A really great love song.
I Love My Country immediately gets back into the rock with easily the best, biggest riff on the album. Unfortunately, it’s by far the best thing about the song. It drops out pretty quickly for the verse, leaving just the acoustic guitar and vocals. Also, this song has so far the only BAD chorus on the album. I’m sure those from the US who are of a very patriotic persuasion would maybe think otherwise, but as an outsider I simply hear a not very catchy, disjointed, pretty repetitive section that doesn’t really do anything for me. The guitar solo was the best so far, too, more technical and rockier than the other, but is yet again cut far too short. It also annoys me that while the intro riff does come back after every chorus, for some reason it feels like it lacks the rawness and the emotion of the first one, though that might just be me. It’s not the worst song by any stretch, but it’s noticeably worse than the last four.
Hard to Get to Heaven is essentially just a re-tread of Always Going to Love You but with cringier lyrics, however Long Time Comin’ is a truly beautiful song. A slow, full acoustic and piano ballad, it stays around the same level and tempo throughout. Having the chorus still be huge while keeping the same instrumentation in the back, just having a bigger-sounding vocal line and some great harmonies between the two guys, feels fresh compared to the rest of the album so far. The lead guitar bits behind the second and last choruses are awesome, too, complimenting the vocals perfectly. It’s starting to irritate me ever so slightly at just how short every single verse has been, and just how much of each song is dedicated to the choruses, but it fits the band and their style of music perfectly. Another great, playlisted song.
After a short interlude it blends perfectly into Ain’t Worried Bout It. I have such mixed feeling about this song. Part of me gets it, they are heavily inspired by hip-hop, just as much as other country artists and rock too. However, the low, singular word ‘rap’(?) that goes on throughout the verse just came across as cringy. They’re all such typical bro-country words too, and it just reminds me so much of Bo Burnham’s ‘Country Song’, being the very encapsulation of everything he joked about in it. It’s a shame too, because the chorus is SO good for this song, I just can no longer take it seriously after the verse. Maybe (hopefully) it’ll grow on me.
Beer:30 somehow picks up the quality again and shows off the oft loved silly side of country music, where the ridiculous lyrics seem to pay off the most (just look at Honkey Tonk Badonkadonk). It’s short, sweet and simple, the majority of the song just being vocals and drums with the odd little guitar lick in there for good measure, too. However, when the distorted guitar comes in for the choruses it lifts the song up massively and really goes to show what putting some great dynamics into a song can do for it. Another that easily made my playlist.
The next few songs were unfortunately a little forgettable for me. New Truck is bouncy and clearly very modern hip-hop inspired, but for whatever reason the chorus simply annoyed me and made me want to stop paying attention. Eyes Closed was another good slow song, there were just better ones on the album than it, in my opinion. The chorus is massively great and catchy, though. Even Second Guessing, a song written for some US talent/tv show (and won it, by the way) that I won’t even pretend to understand is just kind of dull and lost among other better songs. Again, it’s most likely good on its own merit in isolation, but among the other songs on the album it just feels kind of lifeless, most likely because it wasn’t written by either band members.
Good to Me and U.S. Stronger both up the quality again while going for more typical country lyrics over women and drinking and tractors, instead going for Christianity and patriotism. Neither really resonate too deeply with me, being a British agnostic, but hey, they were at least more entertaining to listen to, even if they were both two more slower songs. The final song, Life Rolls On, is unfortunately equally slow (I cannot catch a break with these slow final songs, can I?!), but the message to it is actually a great one and one that I can relate to a lot. I don’t think I really need to go into it, the song title explains it all for me pretty well, but it’s a beautiful slower song in a similar vein to Long Time Comin’ in terms of the constantly stripped back instrumentation. A slow but great way to end the album.
Overall: this was great. I know I’ve come across as kind of negative throughout much of this but in all honesty a lot was nitpicky. I got a lot of the positive things about this out of the way early and a lot of the songs are along the same similar lines so I didn’t want to repeat myself all too much. In truth I loved a good 80% of this album, and after a few more listens I feel like it could go down as one of the best the band have put out so far, in my opinion.
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The review by musician, blogger & author – Joe Griffiths