Review: Jack Foley
EVERYONE loves The Simpsons - the cartoon family, that is. Whether
or not they will dig the alternative Simpson family, however,
is a different matter entirely.
The other Simpsons are comprised of Jessica and Ashlee - the
latter of which has just released her debut album.
Autobiography is another of those rock/punk/pop workouts
that feature a fiery/feisty young female singer with plenty to
say about the world.
Think Avril Lavigne/Melissa Etheridge/Michele Branch crossed
with elements of Sheryl Crow, Stevie Nicks and Courtney Love.
It's not a bad sound, but it is repetitive and it's becoming
increasingly difficult to tell one artist apart from another.
This one's produced by John Shanks (who's worked with Crow, Etheridge
and Branch) and features collaborations with the likes of Good
Charlotte's Benji Madden, Ron Fair (Black Eyed Peas, Christina
Aguilera) and Weezer's Rivers Cuomo.
It's as slick as you might expect, jam-packed full of angst,
bitterness and emotion, and tips its hat to all of the bands that
have provided an inspiration for its young singer (The Pretenders,
Blondie, Janis Joplin and Steve Nicks).
Yet for every high, there are many lows; and you have to question
the sincerity of some of the lyrics, given the position the Simpsons
hold in the grand scheme of things (they haven't really got that
much to be pissed off about).
Not content with merely breaking into the record world, the tireless
Ashlee is currently starring in her very own MTV reality show,
Ashlee, which tracks her through the whole recording process and
is going down a storm in the US.
So when she sings 'I was six-years-old, when my parents went
away, I was left inside a broken life that I couldn't wish away',
on Shadow, you can't help but feel a little bit sceptical
(or am I just a cynic?).
It smacks of the Bratpop trend that is sweeping America at the
moment - complete with the raunch factor that is an essential
part of the sales factor.
Hence, straight after the intensely personal Shadow,
you have the down and dirty rock anthem that is Lala,
featuring such choice lyrics as 'You make me wanna lala in the
kitchen on the floor, I'll be a French maid when I meet you at
the door, I'm like an alley cat, drink the milk up I want more'.
As a supposed Autobiography, it makes for eye-opening stuff,
but you can't help but feel that the 19-year-old Miss Simpson
is merely sticking to a tried and tested formula for success.
With that in mind, however, there is no getting away from the
sheer bloody catchiness of certain tunes, including recent single,
Pieces of Me, which looks destined to end up on the soundtrack
of some chick-flick.
Or the Stevie Nicks-inspired Love Makes The World Go Round,
the acoustic Better Off, or the blatant Avril Lavigne
rip-off, Nothing New.
But then Nothing New is an apt way of summing up what
the album represents.