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Skye Sweetnam

Noise from the Basement

Release Date: 09.21.04
Record label: Capitol
Genre(s): Rock


If You Don' t Like This, You're Missing Something
by: matt cibula

"I saw my boyfriend hanging with this girl that I hate / He didn't have to tell me why last night he was la-ee-ate." This is the opening to the best opening track of 2004, Skye Sweetnam's "Number One." There's a B-52's-esque guitar riff here, some tight chunk-style bashing and crashing, an agonized whiny teenage vocal about being out on the run and looking out for number one…

Seriously, what's not to love about this?

More importantly: what are they doing up in Canada that makes all their teenage girls into punk-pop princesses? Avril and Fefe and Skye are just following in the footsteps of Alanis, I guess, but still, that's kind of a lot all competing with each other at once - and I love it. I think it's awesome. So does my nine-year-old daughter, who thinks Skye is the Truth.

And I pretty much agree. Her lyrics will never be reprinted in the Norton Anthology of Poetry, but that is far from being a problem. "Billy S." explains why perfectly. Facing another week of school, petulant teen rock star-in-training Sweetnam complains, "I don't need to read Billy Shakespeare / Meet Juliet, or Malvolio / Feel for once what it's like to rebel now / I wanna break out, let's GO!" I mean, I can't go for that if my daughter tries that with me, no can do, but still it's thrilling to hear the metallic riff dreamed up by James Robertson, her 21-year-old musical half, wed to such fake-anarchic punk lyrics.

Well, this is one of the faces of punk rock: the rebellion against the cold dead adult world. Don't try to tell me that punk is only political, that it can't be personal, I been around the block a few times myself. And this is also pop, but don't try the whole "punk can't have sweet riffs" thing with me, I ain't buying it. I have a record or two by a group called the Clash. And Skye Sweetnam makes the kind of songs that would be sung by the daughter of the protagonist from "Lost in the Supermarket." Let that be an end to arguments about authenticity.

Because what could be more punk than to do a disco-speedcore version of Blondie's "Heart of Glass"? (Okay, it's not speedcore at all. I was just tired of typing "punk.") It's like No Doubt, and therefore pretty great. But it's the original songs I'm feeling more: "Hypocrite" is classic from the word go - stolen vocal riffs from "Hey Mickey" and "We Didn't Start the Fire" at the same time! Also, a nice move to forestall criticism by claiming the moral high ground for being inconsistent: "Don't try and label me hypocrite / Cause I will do what I want to."

Oh, there's so much more to talk about here: "Unpredictable" has great stop-start sampled noises on the track and some carpe diemlyrics from our girl; "It Sucks" fails to suck because it's so busy rocking like Green Day; "I Don't Really Like You" is that kind of song about loving a boy so much that you hate him that will just EXPLODE on the radio, despite a kinda-crap chorus…

But I'm out of time. Trust me, get over all your notions of "musical vision" and "music should be art." While you're fretting over your street cred, Skye Sweetnam is KICKING YOUR ASS and winning the hearts of the youth. Get on board now.16-Sep-2004 9:32 PM