June 28, 2006
Smoosh "Free to Stay"
It's really difficult not to like Smoosh. I mean, there's a wholesome innocence to their music, and your natural disposition is to root for the li'l underdogs. And considering that sisters Asya and Chloe are both precocious and talented, not falling for them requires a general lack of heart. Asya plays the piano in a way that perfectly captures her youth; it's hard not to envision the runs on "Free to Stay" or "Gold" appearing on a Nickelodeon kids show. If ever there was a true alternative to the crappy teen pop, it's this record. "Find a Way" is a song that should be a Radio Disney summer hit (if it isn't already), and on first listen, it's hard to avoid saying "THIS IS SMOOSH?!?!?" and/or "THESE ARE TEENS?" Same thing with other great songs like "Rock Song" and "Organ Talk;" Smoosh has broken free of the "novelty" tag that was somewhat understandably placed upon them with their debut.
Of course, there's one thing that cannot be denied and cannot be glossed over: these girls are still children, and their musical style is, ultimately, limited. Asya occasionally sounds like she's trying too hard to push her voice into a harder, more adult level, and that's frustrating, because when she sings like that, the song winds up sounding too forced. Plus, the slower ballads like "Waiting for Something" and "She's Right" often tend to sound a bit too melodramatic. It's not that the songs aren't good, but it's at moments like these that their youthfulness is betrayed, and you're reminded that these are kids making pop music.
None of this should distract from the fact that these two girls are talented, and that they have the ability to write really good pop songs. Free to Stay is a major improvement, and with time and a little more maturity, it's not hard to suggest that they'll finally blossom into a truly magnificent pop band. No better gateway record to indie-pop for tweenagers exists, and it's infinitely better than High School Musical!
Label Website: http://www.barsuk.com