With Avril Lavigne sounding, on her latest single, as grown up as, oooh...P!nk, so showing a real growth in her career, a space has been left for J17-punk, being the sound of love affairs that begin before the first school bell but which are over by lunchtime, leaving only 'never again' messages scrawled on the back of seats on the bus home.
As much as schoolkids flit from one to another, so Fefe Dobson fizzes with her sweet singing, bubblegum lyrics and sugary guitars, a concoction that's as rousing a pop album as the Spice Girls' debut but without the dead weight of a Posh mussing up the sparkle of Geri, Sporty, Baby and Scary. 'Course, that was back when Posh did actually register on the bathroom scales, long before her chest resembled the sort of thing Patrick Moore used to play on light entertainment shows.
Opening track, Stupid Little Love Song, is Fefe Dobson's Wannabe - all brash lyrics, bubbling pop and sass - and like that song, Fefe Dobson is not about looking for forgiveness. Instead, Dobson has got a way with a smart lyrical hook, a teen-girl punk attitude and a healthy amount of disrespect. Why else would Tone Loc, last heard with Funky Cold Medina, appear on Rock It Till You Drop It or would she write a song like Unforgiven, which opens with, "Daddy, Daddy / Why you break your promises to me?" whilst sounding as though forgiveness is far from her mind.
Even Dobson's love songs have little about them that's romantic, sounding embarrassed more than honest, as though she's been caught outside school with her boyfriend. Whilst her lyrics are sweet, they never sound convincing, as though she's only saying these words so long as she keeps in with her date - after the prom, he's gone and she's back with her girlfriends.
Even the occasional slow song doesn't detract from the run of teen punk on the album but unlike Avril, Fefe Dobson has less of the feeling that demographics and a marketing department decided on the sound. Instead, Dobson's pop/punk rings true and so long as songs like Everything and Kiss Me Fool keep clear of primary school punk like Sk8er Boi and a growth into rock maturity, Fefe Dobson has a smart, if short-lived, future.