Artist: The Like
Album: Release Me (Downtown Records)
Release Date: June 15th 2010
This album has been out for a month and I’m shocked to find that I am already feeling the need to defend it. I know, those aren’t the first words anyone wants to read on a record review, but it’s become obvious that The Like, their new album Release Me, and their new look and musical direction are confusing some folks. Mind you, I don’t find this much of a surprise since the vast majority of the listening audience these days expects to have their music explained to them well in advance and make no determinations on style, content or “what’s cool” for themselves. When a group such as The Like comes along, the non-thinkers only react with criticism.
That being said, Release Me is a refreshing new album put out by a band headed in a refreshing new direction. For those of you who may have never heard of The Like, the band emerged back around 2001 releasing a few EPs and then in 2005 their first release Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking, which was a very straight-forward indie rock offering from an all female rock act. That first album was great and well worth a listen or two, but with a few changes to the line-up and a new look The Like is really blowing the doors off. In September 2009, The Like announced their new line-up and repackaged look, that of a 1960’s girl group ala The Shangri-Las. This is one of the points of confusion for some people. They have taken their LOOK from the girl groups of the 1960’s, no one said anything about sounding like them. Most of the spoon-fed public expects that since most of the surrounding articles, interviews and photos make reference to The Like’s new look that this means they should be “shooby-doing” and “sha-la-laing” their way through every song. No. No they don’t and no they shouldn’t. This band is well beyond, in both musicianship and content, the girls they pay homage to. There is a ton of 1960’s style pop, psychadelia and Beatles-esqe rock infused in The Like’s music and, lets be honest, and the new look is a great match.
Release Me kicks off with “Wishing He Was Dead” a song which makes it clear that these ladies are not (quite) coming from the “He’s So Fine” camp of bubblegum lovey pop tunes. They’ve got the four piece-rock-act-with-organ down with bassist Laena Geronimo and drummer Tennessee Thomas laying a back beat that rivals any early sixties lineup. Vocalist Elizabeth “Z” Berg has a sexy, sultry voice that is very well suited for lead vocals on these songs and brings an air of early Breeders era Kim Deal. In fact, I think this is one of the best qualities of this album, these are sixties inspired songs delivered with the aggression, sensibility and sexual awareness of a solid alternative band. “He’s Not A Boy”, the title track and ” I Can See It In Your Eyes” are all rolling romps showcasing that The Like know their shit and arent afraid to prove it. Songs like “Fair Game” and “Narcissus In A Red Dress” evoke images the ladies cavorting in Picadilly Circus or riding The Tube while “Square One” is the closest to a Shangri-Las song as we get here. I would be remiss if I didnt point out the strength of the sleeper hit, in my opinion, “In The End”. Thomas pumps out a pure “Pretty Woman” beat which is overlayed with fuzzy guitars and Berg’s strongest lyrics and vocal delivery of the entire album.
All in all, there isn’t a bad song on this album. I promised myself I wouldn’t mention the relatives these ladies have in the music industry and I only bring it up to point out it doesn’t matter. The Like stand on their own merit and it annoys me that every article feels the need to point out who’s the child of who. This is steller execution of 60’s derivative alternative rock, it’s fun, it’s exciting and it’s well produced. Speaking of, I was really happy to heard that this album was made by The Like and it was “all us” as they say. No tricks, no computers and no cheating…four girls in the studio cranking it out. I look forward to more form The Like and you should too!!
Last words on this one: Thanks to USAMike (Letters to Cleo) for the hot tip on The Like. Had he not picked up the vinyl in Chicago, I wouldn’t have known about this one! Also, if my review isnt enough to convince you go to YouTube and see The Like performing an acoustic version of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” by The Shirelles and their song “He’s Not A Boy”. Go out and grab Release Me…fun and top notch musicianship.
Rating: 5 out of 5 (As for it on vinyl!!!)