It’s been a while since Britney Spears ruled the world. It’s been even longer since Debbie Gibson and Tiffany took America’s shopping malls by storm. But it seems the music biz isn’t willing to wait another decade to try and cash in on the annual $14 billion-dollar spending power of the voracious, cash-hoarding eight-to-12-year-olds that make up the growing tween market. Case-in-point: V2’s Katy Rose, budding rock star and 16-year-old daughter of veteran session musician Kim Bullard, who co-wrote and produced every track on Rose’s debut Because I Can. While Liz Phair continues to look to Avril Lavigne for inspiration, Rose is aiming to be the indie rock queen Liz Phair used to be. Sure, the album is over-produced and Rose’s adolescent lyrical talents could use some honing, but songs like “Lemon” (first heard last year in the controversial film Thirteen) effectively bottle female teen angst into tidy four-and-a-half minute blocks. If the album’s catchy lead single, “Overdrive,” seems like a trite condemnation of Californication, then the high-energy “Vacation” embraces star-struck youth and the elegant “Snowflakes” gives gravity to the pangs of growing up in a sun-drenched paradise with one simple lyric: “There’s no more use to curl your hair/When your innocence is gone.” In “Original Skin,” she begs to be touched and those once-innocent curls get twisted into knots. In many ways, Rose is what Avril should be but isn’t: brash but intelligent, irreverent but unexpectedly worldly (even if references to Jayne Mansfield and fait accompli seem contrived at best). There’s a big difference between 16 and 19, though, and one gets the feeling that the sarcastic lilt of Because I Can would be a whole lot easier to swallow (and the music a whole lot more developed) if Rose had just a few more years of life experience under her belt.
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