Just when you thought there were no remaining “New Mickey Mouse Club” alumni without record deals or TV shows, along comes Innosense, whose founding member Nikki DeLoach appeared on the show that spawned Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Felicity star Keri Russell, and ‘N Sync’s J.C. Chasez and Justin Timberlake. The group has other ties to ‘N Sync and Spears: Justin Timberlake’s mom co-founded the group and guided their early rehearsals; Innosense members Danay Ferrer and Mandy Ashford went to school with ‘N Sync’s Joey Fatone and Lance Bass, respectively; and Spears was a member of the group before leaving to launch her solo career.
With that much of a link to the current crop of teen superstars and with the power of songwriters and producers like Diane Warren, Guy Roche, and Full Force behind the group, it would actually be surprising if Innosense didn’t achieve some level of success. If they don’t, just blame it on market saturation. After all, everyone knows what to expect from the group, which comprises DeLoach, Ferrer, Ashford, Jenny Morris, and Veronica Finn, and they deliver it as well as can be expected.
On “Ride”, the opening track of their debut album, Innosense sound like they might offer something more musically interesting than what most of their peers serve up. While “Ride” is a basically a rip-off of Imani Coppola’s “Legend of a Cowgirl”, a sort of hip-hop/cowboy hybrid, the song nonetheless bounces along with a ferocious energy that makes it irresistible. The dubious feminism of the lines “I’m gonna paint my nails, and dye my hair / Then take me a champagne bubble bath / I’m gonna speak my mind at any time / I find that I got somethin’ to say” may pale in comparison to Coppola’s raunchy ode to one-night stands, but as a Spice Girls-style statement of “Girl Power”, it works.
It’s too bad the remainder of the album is so predictable, even if parts of it are enjoyable. With its funky beat and distorted vocals, “Say No More” is the album’s likeliest candidate for hit status, as it sounds more like Britney Spears than anything else Innosense does. “This Is It” is teen pop of the Jessica Simpson or Mandy Moore variety—a danceable love song that is more cute than sexy. The R&B-flavored “A Real Good Man” is also effective, even if it’s painfully obvious these girls can’t belt out a song like Beyoncé.
The variety of popular styles on So Together does keep things interesting, even if it makes the album a bit schizophrenic. It’s too bad, though, that adult contemporary is the predominant style. The central appeal of groups like Innosense is their youth and energy, not their voices, so it is a wonder that so many teen pop albums include ballads that test the singers’ limited ranges and are full of romantic cliches far beyond their years. If it weren’t for the overabundance of A/C, So Together could be called a winner.
// Notes from the Road
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