Album review: The Like’s ‘Release Me’
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This Los Angeles group has a great gimmick (its original lineup featured the daughters of three music-biz veterans), a great look (“Quadrophenia” meets “The Virgin Suicides”) and in frontwoman Z Berg a singer with a great voice (and a great name). What the Like has never really had is great songs. Listening to the band’s 2005 debut, “Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking?,” you keep waiting for the music to reveal hooks worthy of its pretty, post-Pretenders vibe. They never come.
For help enlivening their sound on “Release Me,” Berg and her mates recruited Mark Ronson, another record-industry scion (his stepfather is Mick Jones of Foreigner) who’s best known for producing Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black.” He recast the Like as a ‘60s-style girl group with spooky organ licks, sweet-and-sour vocal harmonies and sassy tough-chick lyrics about love; Ronson even brought in a couple of ringers from throwback-soul queen Sharon Jones’ band, the Dap-Kings.
The result is infinitely more memorable than “Are You Thinking,” though it’s no less mannered. “I’m all about chances, madness and mayhem,” Berg sings in “Catch Me If You Can,” and on an album of skillfully art-directed retro-pop gems, that couldn’t be further from the sweet truth.
— Mikael Wood
Three stars (Out of four)
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