About five years back, I picked up a pretty good album by a trio of teenage Cali girls known as The Like. In fact, that album, Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking?, pretty much embodied the pretty good album: it was pretty and it was good, and that's about all that I recall about it.
Precocious though the girls were, the album slid out of my rotation and out of my forefront consciousness after only a few listens — not because it was bad by any means, but because its hazy production and Jenny-Lewis-on-Quaaludes vocals worked best as a passing pleasure. I noted it as a promising start from a talented young group who hadn't quite found a footing beyond work(wo)manlike dream-pop a la Death Cab, and filed it away in my subconscious amongst Metroid maps and endless Seinfeld gags.
So, forgive me if I haven't quite been keeping close tabs on The Like since 2005, and if I managed to overlook the fact that they released their second album, Release Me, this past June. In fact, Release Me only appeared on my radar last week when a local bar DJ spun a particularly succulent nugget of retro girl-group pop — the kind of cut that just nagged at me to go over and ask about the artist behind the sugar rush. "No way," I scoffed in disbelief. "The Like?"
Sure enough, The Like obviously spent the five-year interim between albums wrapped in a cocoon, because Release Me marks nothing other than a total metamorphosis — from rote early-oughts indie to retro-fab Brit-pop in the style of the Pipettes and the Donnas. In fact, given that The Like dropped one member before their massive makeover, I'm a bit surprised they didn't just go ahead and change their name, but I'm not going to quibble over semantics. Release Me stands head-and-shoulders above Are You Thinking, and the vintage switch-up suits vocalist Z Berg like a pair of chic black opera gloves.
So check out the title cut from Release Me, posted above, and don't feel bad if you let this one slip past the indie goalie — I'm a few months late to the party myself, but now I get to bank on The Like to warm up my fading summer and carry me on through to the fall.