Breaking country duo Florida Georgia Line turned some heads on Nashville’s Music Row this year. The duo of Brian Kelley (from Ormond Beach, Fla.) and Tyler Hubbard (from Monroe, Ga.), started making their presence known when their debut single, “Cruise,” sold well over 100k digital downloads before they landed a record deal. Now signed to Republic Nashville, the “Cruise” single – which hit No. 1 on the country radio charts this week to become the fastest rising debut from a duo in over 20 years – has sold in excess of a million singles while building ample anticipation for their first full length album.
Here’s To the Good Times follows the anthem-oriented groove of the summer tune “Cruise” with 11 songs that double down on the album’s title. Working with Producer Joey Moi (Jake Owen, Nickelback), FGL specializes in big choruses and bigger parties – all with a slick rock polish. On tracks like the blue collar “Round Here,” which rhymes hammer and nail with raise some hell, and the cleverly nostalgic “Hell Raisin’ Heat of Summer,” the guys come through with a smooth delivery sounding something like Montgomery Gentry covering Luke Bryan. Joey Moi’s recent work with Nickelback comes to mind on the club thumping, “Tell Me How You Like It,” where hand claps and slick electric leads support Tyler’s confident drawl in the verse before a strong chorus shows off the duo’s chemistry. Over an infectious wall of sound, Brian draws out a melody underneath Tyler’s quick punch to offer some truly dynamic passages.
Brian and Tyler met while studying at Nashville’s Belmont University and immediately began writing songs together. The duo co-wrote six of the 11 songs on Here’s To the Good Times, and their long history working together shows up often. On the hard rockin’ party song, “Tip It Back,” which celebrates everything from tipping back bottles to tipping out bartenders, the two move from bright harmonies in the chorus to a sequence giving an actual voice to the party. While Tyler sings, If you like pineapple coconut rum, baby, tip it back, Brian brings it alive in the background, offering, Come on, pretty girl. It’s a subtle trick easier for a duo to pull off, but it has the effect of making the story more vibrant.
Here’s To the Good Times draws mostly from a foundation built on country and rock, but like Jason Aldean (who recorded Tyler’s “Black Tears” for his new album, Night Train) and other artists are starting to do, FGL injects a touch of hip-hop into the mix. Tyler and Brian channel their inner MC on “It’z Just What We Do,” a loud stomp with thick electric riffs that gives a shout out to their, backwoods, boondock roots. On the soulful, bouncing album closer, “Party People” (featuring Jaren Johnston of The Cadillac Black) and the revolving love song “Dayum Baby” (featuring Sarah Buxton), a few bars are reserved for some laid-back country rap.
Here’s To the Good Times keeps the tempo up and volume cranked. However, the guys take a moment to reflect on the title-track with a touch for small, expressive details as they reminisce over summers spent on tailgates trying to steal kisses. It’s a sentiment that carries over through the entire project, as Florida Georgia Line offers an impressive debut full of good times, better memories and big songs.
Key Tracks – “Cruise,” “Here’s To The Good Times,” “Tip It Back,” “Hell Raisin’ Heat of Summer”