Sound: Tickle Me Pink is one of many bands that have earned a growing fan base after tireless touring, and the energy the Colorado band delivers onstage is definitely conveyed on the new album Madeline. There is a mish-mesh of styles, but most of the tracks do lean toward the pop-rock genre, and the unfortunate aspect is that simply not enough attention is given to guitar riffs/solos that could have been taken to a different level. The primary focus is on Sean Kennedy's vocals (which sound a bit similar to Cove Reber of Saosin), and the singer does do well at taking on beautiful melodies and, at times, passionate yells.
For such a young band (a few of the members apparently are not old enough to drink yet), Tickle Me Pink does show promise. That being said, Madeline is one of those CDs that also has to grow on you. At first listen, there aren't a whole lot of songs that immediately jump out at you, but there are some gems among the bunch that come to the surface after a few more listens. The Lush Life is one of the highlights of the CD that makes an instant impression thanks to it's slowly building intensity and a riff in the ending moments that sounds like a watered-down Ace of Spades. Another standout is I Can't Breathe, a track in which Kennedy pours out all he's got into the chorus. He stops short of going screamo, but his traditional yell is actually more effective in the end. Combine the vocals with an extremely interesting bridge (a new melody comes out of nowhere), and you've got a great track.
The few songs previously mentioned are absolutely the most energetic, edgiest tracks on Madeline. There are, however, plenty of ballads that definitely seem to be geared toward 14-year-old girls. That's not to say the band did that on purpose, but the momentum simply dips during tracks like Beside The Others. Go Die does build in tempo during the chorus a bit, but the underlying music still never seems that new or interesting.
The closing track Tomorrow's Ending begins fairly upbeat, but the band reins the energy back in when the vocals begin. You could hear this track as the soundtrack for a show like The Hills, and that in itself is somewhat grating. With 1 minute remaining in Tomorrow's Ending, the band breaks into a nice, mellow rhythmic guitar outro. There are some beautiful textures in that outro, and they could have even gone a bit further with this section. // 7
Lyrics: Relationships and love (often love gone wrong) guide the songs on Madeline, and those are themes that will undoubtedly connect with a pretty widespread audience. At the same time, it almost seems as if the band lays it on a bit thick. Case in point is We Still Dance, in which Kennedy sings, When I gaze into those pearly blues; A bright abyss that I once knew; Haunts me from our past... and later We'll still dance tonight; God, it feels so right. Then there's Typical, a song that delivers a very different opinion of a certain woman with the lines, You're nothing more than a typical whore; And I won't be your fool anymore. Those are two big extremes, and it just feels a little contrived at times. // 7
Overall Impression: Tickle Me Pink does have its moments on Madeline, and considering their ages, it's likely they'll sharpen up their songwriting down the line. The CD is one of extremes, however, and there's an equal helping of good and bad. The faster tracks lend to the band's creativity and allow the band to deliver some cool guitar work, but unfortunately there are quite a few ballads that just feel a bit hollow at times. For fans who enjoy the visual touch, the CD package also features a bonus DVD showcasing a sold-out show in the band's hometown of Fort Collins. If there's one thing consistent about Tickle Me Pink, it's the full-on enthusiasm that is conveyed not only in the live show, but also in every track on the CD.
UPDATE: Tickle Me Pink bass player Johnny Schou was found dead on Monday at his home. Read the report here. // 7