When The Like first shimmied onto the UK radar last November with debut single ‘What I Say And What I Mean’, there was much speculation that this all-girl LA trio were a little too perfect to be true. Before you even got to the music (a dizzy slab of superior fuzz-rock, as it happens) there was an avalanche of glossy press snaps, deluxe artwork and US magazine cuttings to coo over. The former looking like a high-end fashion shoot, the latter reading like a Pamela Des Barres fairytale of A-list adventures on Sunset Strip. Scroll forward four months and it’s finally time to find out whether The Like really are consistent manna from indie-rock heaven or mannered indie-rock harridans.
The answer, to begin with at least, is a happy one. When ‘Are You Thinking…’ is good, it’s exceptional. Opening shot ‘June Gloom’ is The Pretenders meets Veruca Salt – singer Z Berg’s cracked Chrissie Hynde vocal flowing like warm treacle through layers of grunge guitars, while ‘(So I’ll Sit Here) Waiting’ is a select alchemist’s mix of girl-fronted dream-pop (The Sundays, Belly) through the ages. The problems come towards the middle (‘Bridge To Nowhere’, ‘We Are Lost’) when producer Wendy Melvoin’s over-polished approach smothers and softens the punk edges, leaving a handful of dirge-grey ballads behind.
So, are we thinking what Z and co are thinking? Not exactly, they may reckon they’ve got a superb debut; we know that this is an album that you’ll like rather than actually love.