So I'm sitting here listening to Kiss & Tell
with a line running from an old Walkman into my computer. I can't listen to it on
my computer because the copy protection makes it skip. The version I loaded onto my iPod sounds like the Chipmunks on crack. I don't need this. My life is complicated enough without record companies making it impossible to listen to the records I'm supposed to review. But that's my problem, not yours. So here's the deal: Kiss & Tell
is a reasonably good pop punk girl group record. It's a bit airbrushed -- that is, it sounds a lot less like the Runaways than Jennie Bomb
did, and a lot more like Pat Benatar. There are more harmonies, fewer fist-raising anthems. Maybe Maria Andersson lost her sneer with boyfriend Pelle at the mixing board. Maybe the suits tamped down on that Swedish fire. Whatever happened, Kiss & Tell
is slick, well-constructed and mall-friendly. Look for it on the soundtrack to the next Lindsay Lohan movie.
Even so, it would be unfair not to notice that there are some really decent songs here -- "Empty Heart" has a radio-ready "Oh-oh-oh" chorus, "Walk on the Wire" a killer guitar hook, "Stupid Tricks" a slinky call and a deadpan "walkin' talkin'" response. Andersson's voice sounds sweeter, more nuanced than before -- she's a dead ringer for Chrissie Hynde on "Keep Calling My Baby" -- and she's backed by a cleaner, more precise sound. But none of it seems to matter that much. I can't even remember why Jennie Bomb made me think girl Ramones; the follow-up is like Dion with a sex change, a distressed leather jacket and a cute little accent.
Anyway, you RCA guys don't have to worry about this disc getting copied or traded at the CD store or even passed on to a friend. This one's going straight in the trash. Happy now?