Written By: Warren J. McCrickard
Label: DisneySound – Rating:
Bubble gum pop has gotten “harder” since I was a teen. When I was growing up, it ranged from the upbeat first round of girls like Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, to the light-hearted second round with Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson. There was always the “alternative” pop like No Doubt with their ska and reggae influence. The difference seemed to be that the musicians actually played instruments, or at least lead well with a band. Avril Lavigne came along as a strong resistance to bubble gum pop and claimed to be more punk or rock or something harder – and she was.
As I traveled through college into the real world, something crazy started happening in the music world: the bubble gum format with their catchy, easy-to-learn lyrics and drop-out, pretty bridges added really talented young musicians and pink highlights. Now the lines are blurred even more as pop has become a hodge-podge of the ska, punk, grunge, and other such genres that were very distinctive in the 90s. N*SYNC was replaced by the Jonas Brothers. Choreographed dances are gone.
Now with stockings, Hot Topic attire, straightened dark hair (with bangs mind you!), and wildly impressive guitar licks comes a new band that typifies the current “pop” format. KSM rock. No seriously, they rock. Five teen girls, mentored by the original Go-Go’s, make up KSM, and on their debut album, Read Between the Lines, Shelby, Shae, Katie, Sophia, and Kate deliver a high energy marathon of rock!
On the title track, the girls quickly establish that they are going to be a powerhouse in the music industry. Shelby, who at times sounds like a young Gwen Stefani, confronts her boyfriend about his elusiveness in their once “picture perfect” relationship, yet she doesn’t come alone. Behind her, playing with authenticity and power are her band mates making sure her voice is heard. Remember this young man: girls never travel alone. KSM are a united group and when one is hurt, they find you; bringing drums, guitars, and emotion-filled vocals that will haunt you for not addressing head-on relationship issues.
Young man: Don’t believe me? Listen to the song “Best Friends Forever.” In this simple, but effective ballad KSM remind each other “don’t forget what we’ve been through together.”
The album is very well-produced by Robbie Nevil, Matthew Gerrard and Brian Malouf. Each track is crafted to be a hit, yet carries continuity with the song on each side. The multi-instrument ensemble ensures Disney another solid hit across all spectrums of media.
While pop has changed, shifted and blended, KSM is a welcomed addition. Shelby, Shae, Katie, Sophia, and Kate are incredibly talented and have delivered a debut album that raises the standard for any teen band to come.