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Posted May 15, 2006 by Mike Mineo in Features
 
 

REVIEW: Smoosh – Free To Stay

The teenage indie pop duo create a surprisingly strong effort on their Barsuk debut.

Artist: Smoosh
Album: Free To Stay
Release: June 20, 2006
Label: Barsuk
BUY

So, is Smoosh some kind of Nickelodeon special? Some marketing ploy to try and capture a young audience? No, none of these would apply. Smoosh are simply two gifted sisters who make shockingly good catchy pop music. Asya is thirteen, and she sings and plays the keyboards. Chloe is eleven, and she plays the drums. She was actually taught the drums by Death Cab For Cutie’s Jason McGerr, who saw the sisters’ musical inclimation and offered her lessons free of charge if she supplied the drum set. While Chloe is impressive and on time, Asya is a marvel to listen to. Her vocals have a distinct childlike sound, but her tone can be compared to the likes of PJ Harvey or even Norah Jones at times. Her piano playing is fantastic for someone her age, especially in songs such as ‘Free To Stay’ or the eccentric rock-like ‘She’s Right’, which also displays some of her best vocal work. Free To Stay is their second album in three years, and they have definitely improved over the potentially adaptable but simple She Like Electric.

You will hear comparisons to several prominent musical figures as Smoosh’s career takes off moreso, but oddly, the person I could most compare their style of play to was Ben Folds. Yes, of course the songs are not nearly as complex or in sync, but they could certainly reach that point. Asya’s keyboard work and dramatic vocal play provides a beautiful array of different sounds that Free To Stay displays, from the bluesy ‘Clap On’ or the acoustic ballad ‘Waiting For Something’. Their reach to try different genres streches too far on the obnoxious ‘Rock Song’, but it is probably the only low point on the album as far as general enjoyment goes. Many would probably expect every song to have a traditional structure, but it is hardly the case as gems like ‘I Would Go’ have flawless transitions that prevent the songs from being dull. Exactly one minute into ‘I Would Go’, a frantic piano compliments an already catchy verse that wouldn’t even be harmed if it was repeated, but the new lines make it all the better. ‘Gold’ is as good of song as any band of any experience age could create.

The album ends with a typical slow paced ballad in ‘Slower In God’. Despite the lyrics being elementary most of the album, Asya’s vocal strengths display some of their best here, with lyrics that have a nice backbone. “I look out my window, see through a waterfall, it seems as if I could walk off the edge,” Asya says quite precisely, “if it weren’t for the barrier between, the water’s pounding so hard, it keeps my windows clean.” The album swiftly changes from a happy paced adventure to a melancholy piano solo, and it does so in a unique and creative way. This is the way Smoosh seems to do things though, and if these two girls do not fade away in all the hype, they will end up with some enormous accomplishments.

Rating: 7.8/10

01. Find A Way
02. I Would Go
03. Free To Stay
04. Rock Song
05. Waiting For Something
06. Clap On
07. Glider
08. Gold
09. Organ Talk
10. She’s Right
11. This Is Not What We’ve Become
12. Slower Than Gold

 = Track Recommendation

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Smoosh – Find A Way

[audio:http://barsukmusic.blaireau.net/Smoosh_FindAWay.mp3]


Mike Mineo

 
I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound. I used to write for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine. Send your music to [email protected].