You're a pop star now

The one album that I’ve had on repeat lately is Release Me, by The Like. It’s a 60s inspired pop album, every song under three minutes, and all the songs run on girl-group sass and swagger, organ lines and sweet backing vocals and some killer couplets. Mark Ronson did the production, and it’s consistent with his other work, sounding like a lost record that you forgot to pick up in ‘63, mostly. (Although I do think he messed with Z Berg’s vocals. I can’t really tell. Interviews, of course, cite the 60’s authenticity of recording. Who cares?)

It’s also very modern feeling, in a way: “He’s Not a Boy” and “Walk of Shame” deal with a generation’s arbitrary approach to love in ways that feel kind of new. “Walk of Shame” is pretty hilarious - the narrator’s realizing she had a one night stand, waking up hungover, and the jaunty chorus sort of shrugs at the situation. But unlike Amy Winehouse’s album with its awkward lyrics, it’s more of a case of kind of fitting old cliches into new worries. Nobody’s really waiting for marriage, or that Postman that the Marvelettes were obsessed with. Z Berg has a nice-sounding alto and can come up with rhymes like “he knows that beauty lies/but he likes it by his side,” or “if I could kick his head in/fickle little boyfriend,” and while that’s not high art or anything, they’re completely pleasureable turns of phrase.

And it’s a good thing is album is excellent! Because at their heart, The Like isn’t the most (forgive me) likable band. All my friends hate the album. I may stand alone with my love. They’re about as rootable for as these five words: “Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander”. Several reasons apply.

Nepotism is the most obvious - these girls have fathers in the music industry, they will probably never not have a record deal. Yet even as I write it - why does that matter? And I don’t see Mark Ronson getting the same sort of criticisms, and while it’s probably sexism, it could very well be age, too (he paid his dues, right? The Like are all of 23/24…). They’re all very pretty girls, and in the five years in between their albums, most of their press came from being in Cobrasnake photos or Nylon LA “scenester” things. That may be annoying and boring, but then again, how can you avoid that if you’re in that world? Second - er, probably because they are daughters of industry, they’re not the most puppyish of bands. Any Like interview, Z Berg comes off as a tough nut - in this one, they take the journalist horseback riding - it’s kind of fun in her lyrics, which can be tough and bitchy in the best way. Third, the 60s thing on the new album - it’s fun and it works, but it seems so much like trend jacking in the most hollow way. (I do think if this was the 90s, faux Motown would be the new swing dancing. But it’s not and it won’t.) But it’s always funny when people decide they’re in love with an era, citing it for its authenticity and realness, because it’s a straw-man of an argument.

Edit: too much replaying later, I realize that the first five songs are great and the album is a wonderful EP and a better-than-good but tiring album.

The Like will never be authentic, so they need to be fun. But I can only hope they try to ape Drimble Wedge and the Vegetations next. (Please watch this Bedazzled clip. It is so wonderful and perfect. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore 4 eva!)