Best tunes of 2010: #19 The Like “Wishing he was dead”

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What happens when you’re a teenaged girl with aspirations of being in a rock band?

If your father is an established producer/musician, he puts together a band made up of other teenaged daughters of musicians and producers and sets you loose on the music world. Right?

Okay. So that doesn’t happen every day but it is an approximation of the beginnings of Z Berg’s now-defunct girl group, The Like. And this story could easily have ended up being a cautionary tale of satisfying your kids’ whims if she hadn’t been at all talented and proficient at writing pop songs. The Like’s first album, 2005’s “Are you thinking what I’m thinking”, mined the poppier side of 90s grrl rock, sounding a bit like Elastica or a more upbeat Garbage. Then, things were quiet for five years before Berg returned with a slightly different lineup and an overhauled sound.

It’s very likely to me that it was producer Mick Ronson that inspired in the now twenty-something ladies a taste for sixties girl groups and mod culture. You can hear this old school essence in some of his other work but with The Like and their second album, “Release me”, everything clicked. Z Berg, along with Tennesse Thomas, and newcomers Reni Lane and Laena Geronimo, dressed the part, made videos that looked from the 60s (see the one below) and put together some really fun tunes. And the critics took notice, many of them calling the new album a marked improvement on the debut. Unfortunately, the band in this form didn’t last much more than a year, going on hiatus in 2011 and performing a one-off show in Japan in 2013, before disappearing again for good.

“Wishing he was dead” is the lead off track on “Release me” and instantly transports you back fifty some odd years to a brighter and vividly technicolor time. It calls to mind the heartbreak songs of the era but changes the plot somewhat in that the singer feels more anger than sadness and feels called to more action than just crying at home into her pillow. “If I could kick his head in, fickle little boyfriend, I’d be satisfied,” Berg sings. “If I could smack some sense into his senses, I might feel alright.” But even with all this inferred violence, it takes a page from “My boyfriend’s back” with a sound that is almost cheerful in its angst. “Wishing he was dead” is peppy drumming, jumpy guitar riffs, dancing organs, and Z Berg’s delicious vocals, backed up, of course, by her tough girl gang. Good fun, all of it.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2010 list, click here.