The fine art of a cappella is alive and well in the capable vocal range of Rockapella, an East Coast quintet best-known for its contributions to the award-winning PBS show Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? They're slightly more pop-oriented than the soul-gospel flavored masterminds of the genre, Take 6, but no less inventive. More precisely, with Smilin', they're looking for the surf crowd, putting a mystical looking big wave on the CD cover, and a photo of them jumping sunsplashed waves on the back. Musically, they attack "Summertime Blues" with a spirited funk energy, playful instrumentation created by voice alone, and more improvisation than classic rockers usually get. The fun in the sun continues on the sashaying cool of "Here Comes the Sun," and those who enjoy mainstream romances will enjoy tracks like "Off My Mind," whose light teen-flavored spirit has an *NSYNC quality. The charms of the more straightforward romances is eclipsed by the fun of their covers, which conclude with none other than "Surfin' Safari," which approximates the Beach Boys harmonies but adds some electronic, vocal, and percussive enhancements as per the new millennium. Those sounds are a bit distracting, but show capabilities of the human voice rarely heard these days in pop music.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran