Daughters of Mitchell Froom, Tony Berg and Pete Thomas learn their lessons well
Credit high-grade DNA and three short lifetimes spent hanging around studios and stages watching their fathers work. Singer/guitarist Z Berg, bassist Charlotte Froom and drummer Tennessee Thomas haven’t just come up with the perfect band name, they’ve cut an accomplished, cohesive debut album. The three SoCal teenagers are ably abetted by Prince-sidewoman-turned-producer Wendy Melvoin, who pushes all the right musical and psychological buttons with her charges.
Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking? is a pubescent epic of sustained, palpitating melodrama, as Berg’s songs of romantic anguish and the band’s committed playing straddle innocence and worldliness with undeniable veracity. On hormonal anthems like “Bridge to Nowhere” and “Too Late,” Berg sets the tone with melancholy-laced vocals that seem repressed rather than merely understated before letting loose during the climaxes, practically writhing from betrayal (there’s a lot of betrayal—and writhing—on this record) and itching for revenge. The effect evokes not the exuberance of The Go-Go’s but the impassioned vulnerability of ’60s girl groups the Shangri-Las and The Shirelles, laced with the bile of a younger Fiona Apple.
While the earnestness and dynamism of the performances result in a roiling expressiveness, there’s no self-effacing humor to balance the amped-up self-pity, and the songs fail to insinuate themselves melodically, rising into choruses that are merely workmanlike rather than hooky—an issue for a pop group. The Like is still a work in progress, but this band has the skills and the time to get the rest of it ?gured out.