"Are You Thinking What I'm thinking?"
It would be easy to dismiss L.A. trio The Like at first glance – attractive young girls who play their own instruments is hardly an original concept. Bands of this description rarely make a lasting impact – who remembers, for example, Hepburn – but The Like have a major advantage in their locker. Their fathers were all involved in the music industry, producing the likes of Paul McCartney, drumming for Elvis Costello, or scouting the latest talent in the A&R department at Geffen – but that's not to say The Like haven't earned their record deal. They've already released three EPs prior to this, their debut album, and hit the road with Maroon 5, Tori Amos, and the Kings Of Leon – all before any of them have even turned 21 yet.
Anyone looking for a record of teen-pop anthems will be disappointed by "Are You Thinking…" although it does open in an upbeat and bouncy fashion. "June Gloom" is an anthem propelled by Charlotte Froom's bass playing, and has a crunching chorus that Z Berg's vocals carry well. "What I Say And What I Mean" is an up-tempo track with an energetic riff and infectious chorus, but then comes a run of slower tracks that display Berg to be an open and honest lyricist. Her angelic vocals are also showcased, particularly on "You Bring Me Down", but it is with "Bridge To Nowhere" that The Like really impresses. The melancholic mood of an acoustic guitar is matched by vividly detailed words of heartbreak, and the emotive vocals of Berg. The band maintain the momentum in the shape of "Once Things Look Up", an epic and brooding number that affirms the view that they should not be dismissed as a group aimed at young teens with pocket money to be spent.
The trio manage a successful blend of The Clash and Blondie on "Under The Paving Stones", which features a chorus packed with attitude, as does "Too Late", which builds to a crescendo before revealing Berg's fragility. "We Are Lost" is appropriately titled as the band seem to lose their way on an uninspired track, and "Waves That Never Break" fails to stimulate the senses, but the later parts of the album aren't all bad – it just fails to match the earlier highlights, although "The One" romps along in pleasant fashion. There's no denying that The Like are a 'pop' band, but if all pop music was like this the charts would make for much better listening. More than just likeable, "Are You Thinking…" is the sound of capable young musicians with the potential to write classic pop songs.