Panning an album made by twelve and fourteen-year-old girls would be very much like making a little girl cry. Hell, for all I know, it might literally be making a little girl cry.
Sitting down to listen to Free to Stay by Smoosh, I was afraid that I might provide Kaffeine Buzz with something similar to The Best Page In The Universe, where Maddox makes fun of children’s drawings (it’s hilarious, if cruel). Fortunately, these girls are talented, and not just for their age. They totally put to shame most of the bands I have to listen to.
The album kicks off with “Find a Way” and a really sweet guttural sounding keyboard. The drumming remains exceedingly tight and busy in the background while harmonious vocals take front and center. Until Asya begins singing, it is easy to picture a well established “adult” band creating this song.
Part of the charm for the album is the child-like brilliance in the naming of the songs, like the aptly titled “Rock Song,” “Gold,” and “Slower than Gold.” The latter is probably the darkest song on the album, free of the peppiness present in most of the other songs.
By necessity, most of the songs are simple. Smoosh is a two-piece after all, so most of the album’s sound is produced from a drum kit and keyboard. Occasionally, a guitar will show up, but typically the only accompaniment is the girl’s voices. While, the girls sing and harmonize, quite capably, the only complaint is that an entire album of a high-pitched child can get a little grating.
These sisters were nominated for Spin Magazine’s 2005 “Band of the Year,” and with the first song they dispel any thoughts that they are a gimmicky flash-in-the-pan act like those Hanson sisters. All of the songs are artfully and meticulously created, which is in part due to the help of their mentor, Death Cab for Cutie’s Jason McGerr. Given time to mature, these girls could be phenomenal.