Wilshire evokes yawns, cringing

by Vivian Chung | 10/31/03 6:00am

As if there weren't already enough pretty pop- stars out there who can't sing. Unfortunately Columbia Records decided there weren't. And so here we are faced with "New Universe" by Wilshire.

The album is quite a disaster. There is not one single song where you'll find a catchy, energetic and fun pop tune. Wilshire tries to blend in elements of rock into their album. There are successful pop-rock artists out there, unfortunately Wilshire just doesn't seem destined to be one of them.

The only thing that could possibly distinguish Wilshire from the rest of pop mediocrity is that they are husband and wife.

For the most part, you can't distinguish one song from the next. However, there are a few better-than-mediocre moments on the album.

"Special" starts with an upbeat guitar riff that sounds good until Lori Wilshire enters with her vocals. Her voice is airy and has a weak coarse quality to it and her vocal range is limited. Micah Wilshire sings backup vocals, and seems to be no better than his wife. The song itself has a more distinguished pleasant melody than other tracks on the album, however.

"Turn It Around" is a good blend of powerful electric and acoustic guitars. It is filled with more emotion than other tracks. While the vocals of the Wilshire are not more impressive than other songs, they sing with much more feeling in this song. The lyrics unfortunately, are neither unique nor creative.

"Nothing Left to Lose," is a song with a slow beat, with pleasant acoustic guitar chords. While it is somewhat sad in the beginning, it doesn't touch on being melancholy. In the end, it picks up the rhythm and becomes hopeful and optimistic. The ending lines are "standing on the edge of my new universe/I can't wait to jump head first in."

"Fool for You," sticks out because it is much more interesting than the other tracks and has upbeat piano chords that continue as a regular beat throughout the song.

It has many elements of a successful pop song. The lyrics are simple and silly, but memorable. The chorus is "And I would be a fool for you/I'd do the things you want me to."

The song is probably the only one in the album that will get you tapping your feet and nodding your head to the rhythm. If only they had done more songs like this one, this might be a halfway-decent pop album.

But alas, that is not the case and the closer "Tonight" makes that painfully clear. It is a slow-beat dreary song with a mix of guitar and strings in the introduction. While the strings are not completely out of place, their contribution is minimal and can easily be missed. The use of strings later in the track, as accompaniment, only contributes to the dreary heaviness of the song.

Lori attempts to sing softly, and thus the result is a ghastly, airy voice instead. Micah sings an entire verse solo, so we can hear the blandness with crystal clarity. Indeed, his vocals are not powerful, nor are they emotional or unique.

As the last track of this album, Wilshire might as well have left out "Tonight," and ended on an uneventful, but not unpleasant note.

"We called the album 'New Universe' because it represents us taking charge of our own music after years of playing backup for everyone else," said Wilshire, from their official Web site.

Perhaps they really should have just stuck to playing backup. They deserve a nice pat on the back for toughing it out in Los Angeles, but not much more.