~ Release group by Ashlee Simpson


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"Dark-haired younger sister of blonde pop singer, famous for soap opera, launches pop career." OK, stop me if you've heard this headline before.

Enter the younger Minogue sister for the year 2004, Ashlee Simpson. Nineteen year old Ashlee is attempting to ride the coat-tails of her older sister Jessica's fame with her debut album Autobiography. The album accompanies her new MTV reality TV series, which follows her during the recording process.

The blue eyed Texan has co-written her music with Johns Shanks, whose production credits include Alanis Morrissette and Sheryl Crow. The musical content takes much from uber-successful artists like U2 and the Foo Fighters and packages them in a familiar feeling rock album.Half the album, including the first single "Pieces of Me", feels self indulgent and lacks substance. After telling us the pains of being Jessica's younger sister in "Shadow", she declares 'everything's cool now, life's good.' It's amazing what a record deal and a TV show can do!

It's not surprising that lyrically, Ashlee lacks depth; it seems that she was groomed for stardom from an early age and has been handed the opportunity rather than having to earn it.Her rise from obscurity didn't take the school of hard knocks route which has shaped her predecessors. Looking down the track listings, a melancholic ballad entitled "Daddy didn't buy me a pony, I got an SUV" wouldn't look out of place.

In between the formulaic, innocuous songs are a smattering of catchy pop-rock tracks. The album's title track is gritty, angst-ridden and angry, whilst in the energetic "La La" Ashlee tells us how she likes rough love and will 'be a French maid when I meet you at the door.' Thankfully, the final track "Undiscovered" has well put-together strings and an emotional sincerity that the rest of the album sadly lacks.

An autobiography normally signals the end of a career, but this debut shows enough promise to keep the post-grunge teenagers happy for a while (oh, and it helps that MTV are championing her!).