[Note: I wrote this review, like, 11 months ago and kept forgetting to post it. But I've been in a tween girl music frenzy the past week or so, so I dusted it off, just for you!]
I really like Miranda Cosgrove. It helps, of course, that I've been watching her grow up since she was a tiny little thing on Drake and Josh, but she just seems to be a sweet girl with her head on straight, and I'm very fond of her.
This is why it's so sad that she projects awkwardness and discomfort, like, all the time. She's not a bad actress, and she's incredibly pretty, but she looks like she's dying of self-consciousness every time I see her. I want to tell her to stand up straight, take her hands off her hips, and take several deep breaths. Case in point. (Though if I were wearing that jacket, I'd be shrugging awkwardly too.)
But the good thing is, this is an entirely visual issue, and so while listening to her first full-length album, Sparks Fly, I can just enjoy her lovely voice and my positive feelings towards her, and don't have to worry about how twitchy I get while watching her.
Speaking of her voice, I was pleasantly surprised! After hearing her (very enjoyable) contributions to the iCarly soundtrack, I had mentally categorized her - a little dismissively - in the "somewhat squeaky, thin-voiced soprano" group with Aly and AJ, Emily Osment, and Selena Gomez. As one of the better ones, to be sure, but nothing to write home about. And I still wouldn't say she has a voice for the ages - she's not as striking or powerful as, say, Miley - but her pipes are strong and she has impressive range. In "There Will Be Tears," for example, she takes the verses about an octave deeper than usual, and sounds like an entirely different person. (Still good, though.)
The music is standard pop fare, but I love standard pop fare, so that's not a complaint. There are, inevitably, some bombs: the overproduced dancepop variety ("BAM"); the overly-saccharine inspirational ballad variety ("Hey You"); and the "I think I'm a rock star but I am incorrect" variety ("Daydream"). But for the most part the album is extremely listenable, whether Miranda's singing with breathless excitement about new love ("Kissin' U," "Shakespeare") or sassy disdain about a man who done her wrong ("There Will Be Tears," "Brand New You"). There are some nice ballads, too: "Beautiful Mess" is a surprisingly convincing picture of the messy end of a troubled relationship, and Miranda gets to show off her belt nicely in "What Are You Waiting For?"
My favorite, though, is the bouncy, hiccupy "Disgusting" - I listened to the album straight through, then went back and listened to this one like ten times in a row. My only quibble is the utterly baffling line "It's disgusting how you change me/ From a bandit to a baby." Bandit? Really? Because that just makes me picture this:
...which is actually a pretty delightful image, so BONUS POINTS.
Seriously, though, Sparks Fly is pretty much an all-around great pop album, and definitely one of my favorite offerings from the various TV pop princesses. Well done, Miranda. Might I suggest more music and less shrugging in your future? Pretty please?