album reviews

The Like
Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking?
Geffen (2005)

On paper, the Like seem so contrived: three young ladies who scored a record deal fresh out of high school and whose fathers are all in the music biz themselves (A&R exec Tony Berg, producer Mitchell Froom and Elvis Costello's drummer, Pete Thomas).

But, surprisingly, the trio -- singer-guitarist Z Berg, bassist Charlotte Froom and drummer Tennessee Thomas -- sound nothing like the fabricated teen-pop one might expect. Instead, the Like recall the Sundays' airy melodies and the Throwing Muses' driving energy. Froom's continuous bass line propels the shimmering "Once Things Look Up," while the ethereal "You Bring Me Down" is grounded by Thomas's syncopated drums.

But the most crucial part of the Like's sound is Berg, who sings with the breeziness of Hope Sandoval and the throaty enunciation of the Cranberries' Dolores O'Riordan. Her confident vocals are captivating in the bouncy album-opener, "June Gloom," as she balances a conversational delivery in the verses with controlled passion in the choruses.

Every so often the Like ventures into teen-angst territory ("I'll never be the one you love," Berg coos on "The One"). But rather than a collection of overwrought diary entries, "Are You Thinking" captures the essence of a carefree teen summer. That lightheartedness gives the Like a surprising maturity, making it easy to forget these musicians' age -- and their industry connections.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 14 September 2005; Page C05
.: Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking? on