There is something very awesome about Smoosh. Disregarding the initial (but impossible to ignore) gimmick appeal (keyboardist/singer Asya is thirteen; her drumming sister Chloe is eleven), the Seattle duo’s second album doesn’t necessarily shift the formula laid out by its minimalist electric-keyboard-driven 2004 debut, She Like Electric. What it does do is allow Asya and Chloe (their last name is a secret) to be seen less as two preteen sisters and more as a real band, a band that tries as hard and purely as it can to rock.
For the few scattered moments of juvenility on Free to Stay (Asya’s simple melodic lines can be grating), her vocals — and Chloe’s drumming — show traces of innocent spirit and maturity in equal measure. That they were “discovered” by Death Cab for Cutie‘s drummer Jason McGerr is of some significance but, on songs such as “Find a Way,” “I Would Go,” and the aptly titled “Rock Song,” a more obvious point of reference is the tenacity of fellow Northwestern groundbreakers Sleater-Kinney. Sure, they’re young, but it shouldn’t be an impediment; these original songs have been influenced in many ways by what’s come before (what isn’t?), but they’re inventive, catchy, and kick-ass enough to stand on their own.