Album Reviews: Noise from the Basement by Skye SweetnamA fair portion of 16-year-old Skye Sweetnam’s debut full-length conforms to expectations, placing the young Canadian in a league similar to Ashlee Simpson's. Tracks like “Number One” and “Billy S.” unabashedly swing for the TRL fences – and have already been featured in WNBA promos and the How To Deal soundtrack, respectively. Throughout the album, hugely contagious choruses about school and boy troubles ride on waves on faceless guitars and sugar-rush backbeats. Sweetnam may lack the powerful pipes of Simpson or Avril Lavigne - possibly why there is an over-reliance on vocal effects - but she has them matched in pop prowess. There isn’t a single track that lacks a sharp hook.
Despite her youth, Sweetnam pulls from a broader range of influences than many of her pop-rock peers. This becomes readily apparent on her cover of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” a perfect fit that gives her room to vamp and showcase a playful personality. The bouncy “I Don’t Care” - built around the album’s best riff - and the breezy “Sharada” bookend the Blondie cover and form a very promising middle section.
Her mischievous side surfaces when she follows a mature, eclectic, '80s-ish ballad (“Smoke & Mirrors”) with an unlisted closing track that weds one of her big pop choruses to a demonic burst of industrial rock. Juxtapositions like this may alienate some bubblegum purists, but it will endear her to those who are automatically skeptical of anyone who has opened for Britney Spears. - Adam McKibbin
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