First thought upon playing The Veronicas second album – hang on a second, weren’t they supposed to rock? If not rock, then a little edgier than the usual pop claptrap? Despite their punky roots and heavily stylised rocker image, The Veronicas have set aside any rock leanings in favour of a more universal electro-pop sound, trading in the guitars for dancefloor stompers on their sophomore release.
One of their better known tracks, -Untouched’, opens the album and this wouldn’t be a bad place to start if only the rest of the songs could match it. -Untouched’ is a bouncy and harmless pop number that redeems the band’s choice of direction change but sadly it’s all downhill from there.
Listened to closely, Hook Me Up disappoints on a number of levels. Musically the electro-pop is polished to the point of being sterile and the girls fail to make their own mark on the already overpopulated electro-pop genre. With a failed disco beat throughout, The Veronicas don’t ignite their sound and the material on Hook Me Up feels second rate, like it was written for (and rejected by) Disney’s latest protÃ©gÃ©s.
On the lyrics front, things don’t fare much better. The pendulum swings from attempts at heartfelt pleading (‘This Is How It Feels’) to unimpressive stabs at attitude in the plainly painful -Popular’. Meanwhile -This Love’ (unfortunately not a cover of the Pantera belter) and -I Can’t Stay Away’ translate as balladry filler on a record that really could do without it.
All too often the lyrics hit the clichÃ©d themes of love/heartbreak and do so in such a High School Musical vein that it grates very quickly – -I Don’t Wanna Wait’ is a prime example. Even attempts at cool controversy amount to crassness; “Take Me on the Floor” hits Katy Perry territory with teasing lyrics as bad as the semi-Europop music in the background (‘I want to kiss a girl/I want to kiss a boy’). The whole album smacks of trying too hard, particularly in the attempt to somehow evoke an identification with a female listenership – as if by somehow writing lyrics like ‘do you only want me -cos you can’t have me’ or (even worse) ‘Most guys I dated got intimidated/So now I date up’ that females everywhere will think -The Veronicas are just like me, they know how I feel’. This wouldn’t be an issue, in fact this sentiment is at the root of much great pop music, were this incarnation not so soulless, vapid and forced.
It should be pointed out that this is not the view of a too-cool-to-like-pop reviewer, I have no problem with shameless pop indulgences – when the music is good, it’s good and this just isn’t. Now I’m off to listen to Parallel Lines to remind myself of just how it should be done.