Meg and Dia Frampton, the namesake for their aptly named band, Meg & Dia, began to gain a significant amount of attention at 2006's Warped Tour, when they were on indie label Doghouse. In 2007, signed to Warner with a song on both the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles soundtrack and the 2007 Warped Tour compilation, they're poised to (re)introduce themselves to the teenaged world with the (re)release of their album Something Real. With average riffs and choruses and occasionally interesting lyrics, the sisters should appeal to the emo-inspired mainstream radio crowd, clean guitars and drums pushing their way through the 11 tracks on the record. This is straightforward, polished, punk-pop-inflected rock, and musically, it certainly isn't trying to break any barriers. The hooks are catchy enough, but so similar-sounding that they're hard to distinguish from one another, and while singer Dia does seem earnest in her confessions of love and broken-hearted acceptance, her voice manages to reach that level of nasally over-eagerness a little too much, turning her innocent credibility into something just bothersome and forced, especially in tracks like "Indiana" and "Nineteen Stars."
From a strictly lyrical standpoint, however, Something Real is better. The sisters try to approach songwriting from different angles, maybe themselves sick of the never-ending barrage of "woe is me" choruses out there, and sometimes this works really well. "Cardigan Weather," which breaks from the standard radio-rock-heavy melodies and moves into something more closely resembling indie pop, tells a story of revenge, the lightness in the guitar contrasting nicely with the malice in the words, and even the somewhat grandiose "Courage, Robert," is appealing in its own way, at least in how it attempts to convey its images less predictably (how many kids use the word "aesthete," for example?). This song, however, is also an indication of how the record goes wrong. It has a regurgitated feel, as if Meg (the main songwriter) has just learned about a certain Robert (Schumann, perhaps?) and, inspired and frenzied, scribbles down some choice phrases from her textbook, her notes from class, and finds a way to work them into the verses. This phenomenon is also particularly evident in "Rebecca," based off the Daphne du Maurier novel of the same name, which, with lines like "Max, you're so distraught/Perhaps, I'll help you out/Your wife was so much more than me/But I can be her now," is painful and unbelievable, regardless of the fact Dia attempts to convince us she's in character. It's trying a little too hard to be smart, when really it should just aim for above-average. Something Real is still fine, overall, but because it hasn't quite figured out how to approach adult topics with a youthful gaze -- or vice-versa -- it ends up falling a bit short.