Tickle Me Pink is one band not to judge by its name. Yes, I know, the name makes them sound cushy, the kind of band that would be aiming for cute. But their debut album, "Madeline," kicks off with "Typical," a declaration of independence that borders on misogynist, and follows it up with sharp songs full of abrasive angst and bruising melodies. Anyone expecting fluff on "Madeline" is in for a hard-hitting surprise.
Upon first hearing "Tickle Me Pink," it's tempting to label the band as screamo, but their constant intensity and reliance on good old loud/soft dynamics makes post-grunge seem more appropriate -- not like either label is synonymous with originality. And no, Tickle Me Pink is hardly onto anything new, but the band has a number of skills in its favor. "Madeline" is melodic and catchy enough to earn the band a widespread appeal, but also forceful enough to avoid getting written off by listeners quick to reject such easy accessibility. "The Lush Life," "The Time Is Wrong" and "Go Die" all serve as captivating examples of the band's delightful pop sensibilities and switchblade melodies.
Frontman Sean Kennedy's voice is hardly distinctive, and his screams often touch on whiny, but as shown in "The Answer" and "Typical," he can display gentleness and anger. He has a heated vigor on "Typical" and the in-your-face "I Can't Breathe," but he's also able to sell open tales of heartbreak and loss, like the title track, about a supposed childhood friend whose life of partying led to her turning up dead next to a river.
The band as a whole also demonstrates the same grasp on emotions. "We're Not Alone" and "The Answer" show a control over the band's alternating tenderness and rage that adds a spirited feel to songs not as basic as they could have been. Tickle Me Pink has room to grow, but the initial confidence shown on "Madeline" seems unshakeable. KEY TRACKS: "The Lush Life," "The Time Is Wrong"
Jason Silverstein is a senior at Williamsville North.