Amy Studt

False Smiles

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Teenage rebellion. Bags of attitude. An album full of radio-friendly guitar pop tunes. You can understand the comparisons with Avril Lavigne. But that would be a disservice to Amy Studt, as while the Canadian Sk8er Girl's rock chick persona sometimes appears contrived, Studt's debut is carried out with conviction. One look at the credits reveals that it would be unfair to lump Studt in with the majority of her manager Simon Fuller's other manufactured acts, as she penned every one of the rather prolific 14 tracks, alongside some more illustrious songwriters such as Gary Barlow, Cathy Dennis, and Karen Poole. And it's this mixture of the pop writing establishment and raw talent that makes her debut all the more refreshing. "Misfit," an ode to reveling in being a nonconformist, is as loud and brash a call to arms you could possibly get as Studt growls "Anything you can do, I can do better." It's a ploy repeated on the glorious single that never was, "Ladder in My Tights," as she playfully fantasizes about using dynamite to get revenge against her enemies. It might be a bit of a one-trick pony act if the rest of the album were in the same vein. Luckily, she's got more than just the teenage angst string to her bow. "If Only" is a lovely understated chillout dance; "Carry Me Away" is a piano-driven epic; and "Gonna Be Fine" contains more vocal leaps than a Mariah Carey record, but thankfully less histrionics. The album's pièce de résistance is "Seconds Away," a gorgeous and haunting ballad that starts off melancholy and builds up into a crescendo of guitars and strings that shows off Studt's fragile but beautiful voice to full effect. Occasionally, the album veers into typical self-pitying teenager territory, particularly on the final track, "Nobody," and "Happy Now" is a rather misplaced attempt at musical theater, but this is an inventive affair that combines teenage innocence with a world-weary maturity.

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