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Music Review

Amy Studt - False Smiles

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Polydor - 2003 - 54 minutes

This debut by pop sensation in waiting, Amy Studt, will give nightmares to anyone over 20 who fancies a career in the charts. It's not that the lyrics on False Smiles are so profound as to keep you awake at night; rather it's the music that is deeply impressive for a 16 year old, albeit one who has been penning her own songs since she was in primary school. She's so young, in fact, that she would have been in nappies when Gary Barlow, who she collaborates with on 'Testify', was first lepping around the Top of the Pops stage in a string vest.

Despite her quirky dress sense and flowing hair, the Bournemouth teenager is more Avril Lavigne than Tori Amos. While she might try to play the misunderstood cool chick card, 'False Smiles', with its slick record company production is as radio-friendly as pop music gets. Laden with hooks big enough to catch a great white, 'False Smiles' is the ideal soundtrack for a girly drive to the beach, windows open and radio blaring.

Most of these songs - especially the current single 'Misfit', the sassy 'Ladder In My Tights' and 'Going Out Of My Mind' - nestle themselves in that strangely warm part of your brain that feels happy when it hears Westlife's 'World of Our Own'. Also lovely are the floaty 'Carry Me Away' and the bluesy, string-led 'Happy Now'. It sags a little in the middle - 'Superior Mind' is one of those dodgy what's-wrong-with-the-human-race songs and 'You're Going To Be Fine' is fairly drippy - but it's never boring, unlike many pop acts out there.

No doubt those who think this stuff is another nail in the coffin of Credible Music will revile this album. These people are missing the point: it's not supposed to be played while lying on your bed, trying to work out the meaning of life. To use a much-hackneyed cliché: it does what it says on the tin. 'False Smiles' is ultimately disposable but like a big Aero bar, quite delicious while it lasts.

Anne-Louise Foley

Tracklisting: Just a Little Girl - Misfit - Under the Thumb - If only - Beautiful lie - Ladder in my Tights - Carry me Away - Happy now - You're Gonna be Fine - Superior Mind - Going out of my mind - Seconds Away - Testify - Nobody

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