When you have such pop perfection as "4 Ever," (purchase/download) a track that seemed almost solely responsible for the rise of teen rock pop, it is difficult to imagine any possible way to redefine yourself as an artist. Especially when there are two of you that look the same. Twin sisters Jess and Lisa Origliasso are The Veronicas, and after having taken the world by storm in 2006, return with their sophomore effort, Hook Me Up.
In the realm of stylistic changes, the shift from the rockier Meredith Brooks/Tracy Bonham The Secret Life Of… to the glam electro of Hook Me Up may seem, at first, an alienation of the fans garnered with the former album. One review I saw early on was a discontent fan clamoring about the complete and utter lack of guitars. What does that say to me? Listen to the damn album! The Origliassos haven't abandoned anything they did in 2006, with the exception of neglecting to work with Max Martin again. They've built on every single foundation they created on The Secret Life Of…, providing not only a more entertaining vehicle for their talents, but also a more mature level of songwriting and expression of pain, loss, loneliness, and regret. From the moment the album starts, the fine hairs of an expert bow sliding across taut strings that is the melodic opening of "Untouched," you know you're in for something different and special. "Untouched" is fast, both in BPM and in the way the twins vocally present the song, yet it proves once again that speed and pain are not mutually exclusive ideas. While the track begs and pleads with you to move along with it, it also implores you to be moved BY it, as the girls sing, "I feel so untouched right now/ Want you so much somehow/ Just can't resist you/ It's not enough to say that I miss you." I am inextricably bound. The album's title track, which is also its lead single, "Hook Me Up," is an electro-pop tune with a serious drive to the dance floor (and check out Tommy Trash's vocal version, quite fun!).
The album is upbeat and fun, yet surprisingly adult and moody. Tracks like "Revenge Is Sweeter (Than You Ever Were)," "This Love," and "I Can't Stay Away" are all bittersweet in their lyrical content yet complete knockouts in musical delivery. "Revenge" hearkens back to The Secret Life Of… in that it features a more guitar-driven sound than a lot of the album, but maintains the flow and energy of the rest of the disc. Despite the content of the track, the song would be considered upbeat musically due to the high BPM and drum style. "This Love," the third Australian single off of the album, features a more straightforward synth-pop sound, even going so far as to emulate a-ha's "Take On Me" as the pivotal moment in the track. The last of my trio of favorites, "I Can't Stay Away," describes the addiction to a person, sexually, and the admission of that addiction. The song is powerful and moving, the Origliassos' vocals soaring over one of the slower songs on the album.
Hook Me Up features a bevy of other potential singles, all as good as the next, but I do want to point out one last one before leaving the rest a mystery. "Popular" (purchase/download) at first seems like a random track, very atypical to the rest of the album. It is an extremely self-indulgent, tongue-in-cheek response to their own rapid rise in fame. With lyrics like, "And I get what I want/ My name is my credit card," you can see the humor within the lyrics. Upbeat, very poppy, but eventually the complete inanity of it grew on me and I now count it as one of my favorites. Don't discount this song due to the extreme contrast it poses to the rest of the disc or their previous material. Give it a shot, you might just like it.
Summary: Hook Me Up is a well-crafted and immensely enjoyable dance pop album and should continue The Veronicas reign as the reigning pop band. A winner.
Released November 20, 2007 on WEA International. US Release pending.