Iâ€™m going to avoid the obvious comparison to No Doubt, and instead say that Hello Tokyoâ€™s, â€œSell the Starsâ€ features a female vocalist (Kat Kihler) who murmurs and explodes, alternately, in disaffected, shrill
passion. Itâ€™s the chick version of the same style made classic by The Rolling Stones and made current by Dave Grohl, but with more pop-and-ska than rhythm-and-blues. â€œAlert the Authority,â€ the first track, is a pretty low-key, metaphysical affair (â€œI am happy/At least I think so/Everythingâ€™s better/When my mind is biggerâ€), but right after that the title track starts with hook and never lets up, pummeling the listener with nonstop riffs and rim shots.
Kat is also the songwriter here, and most of her songs are about how sheâ€™s been the victim of a bad relationship. The lyrics arenâ€™t captivating, but theyâ€™re fine for what sheâ€™s doing. The real star is Katâ€™s voice, a perfectly tough pop star voice, one that in the â€˜90s would probably have been a radio staple but, with the fall of the music industry, will probably have to do a lot more to get into your earhole.
For me, â€œIntimidate Meâ€ is the standout track here. Itâ€™s got a little Stevie Wonder funk in it, just enough to separate it from the power pop that otherwise occupies the album. But every song is catchy, and proves that the band has skills.
Oh, and I canâ€™t avoid it any more: They sound an awful lot like No Doubt. Not that thatâ€™s a bad thing (and it is far better than sounding like Gwen solo). Theyâ€™re also from Brooklyn. And yes, thatâ€™s a good thing.
For fans of: Metric, Rilo Kiley, No Doubt