Musings on music delivered when I dig myself out.

The Click Five -- Greetings From Imrie House
Lava/Atlantic; 2005

Pardon my paranoia, but something about The Click Five doesn't sit well with me. Perhaps it's their hospital-clean sound, their boyish good looks, or that a handful of their songs were written by established musicians. Something doesn't add up. It's almost as if record label execs took the public's thirst for anything "indie" and assembled their very own underground band -- a boy band reprise. The band's shiny debut album, Greetings From Imrie House, does little to disprove the accusation. The Click Five is exemplary of why the underground cringes every time major labels catch on to a trend.

But that alone is not reason enough to shun The Click Five from the cool kid circle. Admittedly, whoever actually plays the music on Greetings... (something tells me session musicians saw studio time) knows how to whip up pop hooks and fling them at our ears. Five part vocal harmonies, arena-ready riffs and expensive-sounding production are the group's M.O. -- like a Power Wheels version of The Cars. It's a sickly sweet concoction, but the finished product is initially hard to resist. And really, what's wrong with a little confectionary fun from time to time?

For one, The Click Five's music is utterly soulless. With the exception of one track, Greetings... is scrubbed clean of any emotion other than sheer desire. Without the human connection that draws us in to music, the band's work could be recast as soda jingles without anyone being the wiser. And with girls, girls, girls weighing so heavily on the band's mind, it might be valid to ask the boys if they ever forget to eat or shower. Further detracting from the band's chance at scene stardom is their forgettable nature. Like cotton candy The Click Five's songs melt in your mouth, leaving listeners with only a sugar rush and not a full stomach. Only "Just the Girl," the album's lead single makes any sort of lasting impression. The sad part? The band didn't even pen the tune.

In fact, the band received quite a bit of help in the songwriting department from seasoned veterans. The aforementioned single and "I'll Take My Chances" were the creations of Fountains of Wayne member Adam Schlesinger; "Angel to You (Devil to Me)" was "co-written" by Kiss guitarist Paul Stanley; and the band's guitar sound was shaped by The Cars member Elliot Easton (which nicely explains the idolizing riffs). How does a band get this much help and still come away with such an unsatisfying album?

It all comes back to the band's (speculated) origins. Instead of coming into their own naturally, The Click Five were thrown into a studio with a handful of pre-written material and every production trick known to major labels. Whether or not we like to think about it, the record industry is probably more interested in making a buck than putting out substantial, satisfying content. Right now the kids are all abuzz about Death Cab and Bloc Party; and if Big Music has to create its own version of indie music in order to sell albums, they will. Greetings From Imrie House is a likeable cheap thrill -- a skeleton of quality pop music without the guts and heart to back it up. Maybe the band doesn't care about any of this, but their taste for the limelight comes at their listeners' expense.

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