There is a lot of teen pop out there, much of which is so produced and tweaked that voices and choruses become nearly indistinguishable from one another, while keyboards blend into drum machines blend into prepubescent voices blend into an unrecognizable jumble of major chords and melodies. While the debut album from T-Squad, the group of four teenagers -- two boys and two girls -- organized by Vitamin C (who lends her hit, "Graduation [Friends Forever]" to the band), certainly doesn't introduce any new ideas into music, it has the advantage of a few things that allow it to stand out from the unwieldy pile of other tween-friendly hits: songwriters who know what they're doing, producers who know how to follow current radio trends, and kids who have enough actual talent -- or least personality -- to capture listeners' attention, rapping and singing and dancing themselves into Disney Channel history. The thing is, with its clubby, hip-hop-flavored rhythms and synthy hooks, T-Squad practically functions as an adult pop album with more "teenaged" themes (friendship, parents, love, having fun, overall positivity) rather than a strictly under-16 (or whatever the cutoff is) release, which doesn't make it good, per se, but makes it a little more bearable than albums full of songs about sleepovers or dinosaurs, topics that don't take as kindly to Pro Tools. Yes, the pieces here are saccharine and inoffensive, and for the most part sound not only very much like one another but also like other Top-40 hits, but these are characteristics of much of pop music in general, not just of T-Squad. This, at least, is done well, and smartly, and so if contemporary teen pop is what you're looking for, you could do a lot worse than this. Marisa Brown, Rovi
- Kids, Rock, Rap
- Hip-Hop/Urban, Dance
- Pop-Rap, Teen Pop, Alternative Pop/Rock
- April 3, 2007
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