April 24, 2008

Test Spin: Ashlee Simpson

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There probably has never been an artist as shamelessly unauthentic as Ashlee Simpson. Whether aping Hilary Duff on her fizzy-pop debut or mimicking Avril Lavigne on her dourly angst-ridden follow-up, Ashlee Simpson’s sound has always been manufactured solely to follow the trends. Thus, it should surprise no one that Simpson has yet again transformed herself — this time into a Gwen-Stefani-meets-Nelly-Furtado hybrid — by trading in her angry guitar-riffs for electro-urban dance beats clad with ’80s synthesizers and incessantly catchy pop hooks. Produced almost exclusively by Timbaland, Bittersweet World is a thoroughly fun listen that gleams with addictive melodies (particularly in “No Time For Tears” and “Murder”) and ridiculously absurd lyrics (especially in “Rulebreaker” and “Hot Stuff”, where Simpson deliriously barks lines like “You ain’t got no beef” and “feels like I’m in Candyland” on a repeated basis). All the while, Bittersweet World feels modern, and if you can take it for what it is — a happily superficial, zero-credibility pop album by an even more happily insincere pop star — this record could not be any better.