ARTS

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February 24, 2006

Aussie duo the Veronicas steal from better artists, and that’s no “Secret”

After looking up the name “Veronica” on wikipedia.org, it was clear that the name had many praiseworthy attributes. First and foremost is Saint Veronica, who represents the essence of what any Veronica could strive to be. Elvis Costello dedicated a song, “Veronica,” to the mystique of a woman with “a carefree mind of her own and a delicate look in her eye.” Then, after a listing for a “genius of plan,” an Archie Comics cartoon, and a computer search engine, a smudge appears on this list: “a twin-sister pop group from Australia.”

This 20-something twin duo do have a little noteworthy accreditation to their name. Besides all of the historical value of the name Veronica, Lisa and Jess write all their own songs (a true feat among current mainstream artists) and wrote songs for the “lesbian” duo t.A.T.u., an Australian Idol, and many more. They are also a marketing gem, with their overly-promoted MySpace page, as well as their name—which, it turns out, was lifted from the Archie Comics character.

Instead of suing, Archie Comics settled this theft by offering a cross-promotional deal, with the girls appearing in their magazine, offering a free download, and possibly receiving a cameo in the forthcoming Archie movie. Sony Records even presented them with a reported $2 million to join their label. Unfortunately all of those accolades still cannot make up for the release of their awfully-titled debut “The Secret Life of…the Veronicas.”

On a semi-positive note, their lyrics are somewhat acceptable. For the majority of the album, Lisa and Jess use catchy lyrics and simple topics that would keep an audience of masochists attentive. Kudos. They include tracks about having to break some poor boy’s heart in “Mouth Shut” and losing themselves to someone else in “Everything I’m Not.” And what is this “Secret” the Veronicas whisper about? “I never looked at you that way/ ’Cause I always thought you were gay.”

And how recycled is the production on this album? The producers on this album (Max Martin, Don Gilmore, Dr. Luke, and Toby Gad, who have worked with everyone from Britney Spears to Linkin Park) sound as if they took samples from their previous tracks and tweaked them a bit for this twin duo. Every song sounds like an imitation of Avril Lavigne or Kelly Clarkson, with less attitude than Lavigne and a lot less vocal ability than Clarkson. Basically, only 13-year-old girls with no taste in music (the same ones who voted for the American Idol contestants who had no signing ability whatsoever) can accept this recycled mess of an album.

Don’t get me wrong. The Veronicas do have a couple of nice songs on this album, none of which are memorable, but, at the very least, provide good background music. “When It All Falls Apart” includes some acceptable guitar playing, and “Heavily Broken,” though it sounds like a Kelly Clarkson rip-off, is decent. As I mentioned before, their “Secret” is just funny—the music, not so much. The song with the brightest and best production has to be to their final track, “Mother Mother,” in which the girls hide their smoking, drinking, and other teenage mayhem from the “’rents” and go crazy in the process. The best song on the album, by far, is their ballad “Speechless.” The lyrics speak of “falling head over heels,” and the music supports these lush feelings with gentle violin accompaniment, temperate guitar, and beautiful vocals.

Would I recommend buying this album? No. I don’t say this because I hate the Veronicas’ music, lyrics, or production. I say this to save you from any girl you meet named Veronica who has a musical ear. This CD is truly defamation to the good Veronica name, and if she catches you listening to it, there won’t be much time until that CD is shoved up a less-than-comfy location.