Monday, October 5, 2009
No guilt here, just pleasure.
One of the (many) reasons I love Tizz is that she just keeps getting better. She was vaguely endearing when The Suite Life of Zack and Cody started; she wound up being the apparent glue that held the show together, since The Suite Life on Deck is unwatchable without her. She was one of the only tolerable actors in High School Musical; by High School Musical 3, her background eyerolls were more entertaining than anything in the nonsense plot. And while her debut album, Headstrong, was an embarrassment all around, Guilty Pleasure, her sophomore effort, is…really, really fun. Who knew?
This is first and foremost because Tizz sounds surprisingly good. Gone is the squeaky, Hilary Duff-esque Tizz of the past; this is a strong, grown-up voice, one that can actually belt and convey multiple emotions, something only a couple of her peers can do. It’s a continued growth from her surprisingly good (albeit sadly truncated) singing performance in HSM 3. Hey, remember how we all scoffed at her “deviated septum” story back when she had her nose job? It might actually have been true, because she sings much more powerfully and less nasally now. I know, I can’t believe it either!
The songs themselves are, for the most part, decent. Most of them tend to run together – there’s 19 on the album, and a good five could have been cut without a noticeable change to the content. They all tend to follow a basic formula of “purred verse, bridge, shouted chorus, rinse and repeat,” as if whoever wrote them was taught to adhere to song structure as rigidly as Elizabethan sonnets, but they’re definitely listenable. The whole album is also seriously 80s-inspired; the title track in particular sounds like it was once recorded by Paula Abdul in her heydey. Others, like “Crank It Up,” sound more current, where “current” equals “like a lost track from Britney Spears’ Circus.”
There are, however, some standouts. There’s only one really bad song, “How Do You Love Someone,” but its caterwauling melodrama is really bad. And the otherwise unremarkable “Time’s Up” is notable for bizarre lyrics like “We’ve squeezed the fruit ‘til there’s no more juice left” and “This cake’s already baked.” Uh. What?
On the other hand, there are some really bright, fun songs: “It’s Alright, It’s OK” is a great kiss-off song, “Hot Mess” is endearingly, well, messy, and “Switch” is bouncy good times. On the rather lovely ballad “Me Without You,” Tizz delivers a vocal performance I wouldn’t have guessed she was capable off, moving effortlessly from whispered vulnerability to a belt that reaches to the cheap seats. And “Hair” is hands-down the best song on the album; the lyrics are clever (well, if you ignore the part where she says “unperfect”), Tizz’s singing is strong, and the whole thing has a lilting, unusual cadence that I just can’t get enough of.
This is not the next Abbey Road, or even the next, say, Oops! I Did It Again. But it is a good, strong, fun album, and gosh darn it, I’m proud of Tizz. Keep it up, sister! You keep defying my expectations, and that’s just fine by me.