Believe in Angels Believe in Me

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Angel is a veteran of the third-tier teen pop act No Secrets, which had its greatest success shilling in backup roles for blonde goblin Aaron Carter. There's nothing as preposterous as the faux-Will Smith party pap of Carter's "Stride [Jump on the Fizzy]" on Believe in Angels...Believe in Me, Angel's redundant solo debut. But the record is equally soulless, zipping listlessly through dance-oriented truffles ("Believe in Angels," "Wild Guess"), bland pop-R&B coattail riders ("Lessons in Love"), and a couple of perfunctory ballads. Every now and again, Angel gets a chance to really lay into a lyric or long note, suggesting she's at least capable as a vocalist. But the lack of anything memorable in the backing tracks dilutes her presence considerably. The beats are processed, the chirping synths seem recycled, and her generic lyrics about relationships and dancefloor politics -- "You played me like I was your toy"; "Pay attention to my body language" -- only illustrate how carelessly calculated Believe in Angels really is. It's a product down to its ones and zeroes, and a weak one at that. Pop like this can be made gold by its producers. But the normally Midas-touched Matrix even phones it in with "Once Upon Our Time," which sounds like a rehash from Top 40 radio circa 2001. (Can you say Willa Ford's "I Wanna Be Bad"?) With enough exposure on Nickelodeon and Radio Disney, there's potential for vaguely catchy filler like "Mama's Little Girl" or the typical girl power anthem "Just the Way I Am." But it's difficult to believe in Angel when her debut is so obviously coasting on dance-pop fumes.

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