Stephen Jerzak

Miles and Miles

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Miles and Miles Review

by Andrew Leahey

Stephen Jerzak wears his influences on his sleeve, bouncing between Owl City’s electro-pop and Never Shout Never’s cutesy teen folk on this major-label debut. Like both of those bands, he’s something of a self-made teen idol, championed and supported by an audience he singlehandedly built through MySpace, YouTube, and Facebook updates. Miles and Miles is no homemade affair, though. For starters, Jerzak gets help from several A-listers, including the Matrix (who composed, recorded, and produced the punch-drunk “Ha to the PPY") and multi-platinum producer Matt Squire (who co-wrote “Next Level"). He also ditches the homespun acoustics that filled his previous album, My Uke Has a Crush on You, and focuses on an electronic, slaphappy, overly synthesized sound. When you cut through the flamboyant production and glossy studio polish, though, these songs aren't entirely different from everything else in the Jerzak catalog -- which is good for longtime fans and somewhat terrible for everyone else. This sort of syrupy, overly heartfelt fare (sample lyric: “You’re so sweet that you put Hershey’s outta business/And I have a photograph to show my friends that angels truly exist”) certainly means the world to the teenagers who take Jerzak’s diary-like emo confessions to heart, but to those on the outside, it’s a mess of gauzily huffed vocals and Radio Disney dance-pop, with synthesizers tracing cotton candy swirls around every melody. It’s the musical equivalent of junk cereal. Everyone’s got a sweet tooth...but surely, there’s got to be something more appetizing than this in Jerzak’s pantry. Call us when dinner's ready.

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