May 25, 2010

Me Likey Likey The Like

With echoes of The Bangles and Elastica ringing throughout their songs The Like are very likable. The band came together almost a decade back, and considering their age it's not inconceivable that their first "gigs" were in somebody's family room. But, when you consider who their parents are you realize that their first full play sessions were probably in fully loaded state of the art studios.

The original trio of young lady musicians sported an impressive pedigree. Charlotte Froom (bass), Tennessee Thomas (drums), and Z. Berg (vocals) were all the respective get of some of the music industry's finest: producer Mitchell Froom, drummer Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello) and A&R impresario Tony Berg.

Their first album Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking? dropped in 2005 and showed a lot of promise, with a very polished sound that would have once been called alternative and which showed occasional glimmers of genius. There was an unmistakable Bangles likeness throughout right from the get go. And Berg's vocals are reminiscent of Elastica's Justine Frischmann, no more so than on "What I Say And What I Mean". You could also detect other notable influences such as The Sundays, The Pretenders and even The Sugarcubes. The album was good, but not great.

Flashforward five years and things have changed. Berg seems to be the only remaining original member, the trio is now a four-piece combo, and The Like have just released an EP "Release Me" as a precursor, a teaser of sorts, for their forthcoming full-length disk of the same name. The biggest change though is the band's thoroughly mod style and sound. The Like's embrace of all things sixties is as delightful as it is surprising. Typically groups tend to have those retro moments early on and slowly move away from the derivative styles and sounds. Not so The Like. Presumably under Berg's tutelage, the band has produced a very sixties styled EP, and one killer video ("He's Not A Boy") to go with it. The title track is a rather all-too-typical girl group sound, but has just enough vocal intensity that it doesn't sink into sickeningly sweet but rather bounces along in an excellent pop vein. With The Pipettes having jumped the shark, you might think this is too little too late, but I think The Like have enough of a rough edge, and more than enough talent, complimented with a pop sensibility that keep the songs fresh and modern. Let's hope the album follows suit.

The Like -- Fair Game (2010)

The Like -- what I Say And What I Mean (2005)

The Like -- He's Not A Boy