» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Free To Stay

Rating: 7/10 ?

July 7, 2006
Thank heaven for the little girls of Smoosh. Here's hoping Asya and Chloe never grow up.

Sweet as pie and brimming with youthful energy, Free To Stay is the second album of vibrant, Lite-Brite powered indie pop from the two junior high age sisters. As young as they are, they don't have much use for toys or studio gimmicks. The instrumentation is refreshingly simple, effects-free and lean, with Chloe banging out steady, uncomplicated yet infectious beats on the drums and Asya making like Ben Folds (the early years) on the keyboards. Set up much like Mates Of State, with a similar pop aesthetic to boot, Smoosh is being mentored by Death Cab For Cutie drummer Jason McGerr, which could explain why Smoosh bases its songs around insistent, stabbing rhythms, like the distorted garage-y stomp and tight, Franz Ferdinand-style march of "Rock Song" and the sugary, fried throb of "Find A Way." Glowing, blissful melodies dig out from under the hardened, candy-coated crust of sound that covers tracks like those, revealing tender or unabashedly jubilant emotions that go beyond mere Trapper-keeper scribbling.

If this isn't cuddle-core, it's darn close to it. But there's a wistful maturity to songs like "I Would Go," with its buoyant melody and charmingly off-key vocals, and the ivory-tinkling title track, that separates Smoosh from Cub and the like. Nowhere near as calculated or empty-headed as Hanson, Smoosh shoots for the moon and the stars on "Waiting For Something," adding light, acoustic strum to twinkling piano arpeggios for a surprisingly sophisticated melodic turn that hints at Burt Bacharach, or at least That Dog. How old are these girls again? 12 and 14? Is that possible?

Well, it is and you don't have to take Barsuk's word for it, or check their IDs. The coming-of-age confusion and the magnified trials and tribulations of youth expressed in the lyrics are a dead giveaway, as is the unfinished, almost tossed-away quality of songs like "Glider" and "Clap On" and the forced, "gee whiz, aren't we having fun" instrumental jam "Organ Talk." Imperfect as it is, you still have to admire Free To Stay as a gleeful paean to the joy and freedom of being young and a happy, pure alternative to the crass selfishness of MTV pop princesses and their disastrous parents. Smoosh is a real rain that's going to wash Beverly Hills of that scum and then dance all night in the puddles - that is until they have to go home for dinner.

Watching Smoosh's development is going to be interesting. It's not that often you find an act of such a tender age on an indie stalwart like Barsuk. Looking into the crystal ball, I see grandiose string arrangements, ornate glockenspiels and clanging chimes, and a lost innocence, but that's all right. Smoosh could stand to flesh out its precious sound a little. If they start laying it on a little thick, McGerr will set them straight.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad



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