Sept. 13th marked the debut release of Los Angeles rock trio The Like. After three years and three self-released EPs these three lovely ladies wasted no time signing to music emperor Geffen Records, home of blink-182, Limp Bizkit, and, yes, Ashlee Simpson. Despite the major label hype, The Like seemed to offer a promising break from the rise of media princesses who seem to pursue music careers with as much personal zeal as a National Honor Society candidate. I’m nonetheless slightly disheartened by the new album, titled “Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking?” as it fails to display a sincere artistic voice. The Like has developed an appealing sound derived from the safe yet keen songwriting of guitarist/vocalist Z Berg. Harkening back to the easier-to-swallow tracks on Radiohead’s “The Bends,” “Are You Thinking” is a significant accomplishment for these young ladies. Yet, the album, in all of its glittering charm is noticeably difficult to listen closely to. “Are you thinking” begins with a few songs that seem to be more akin to the edgy live sound that has been the face of The Like for the past four years. As it progresses, however, the sound of the album shifts, however subtly, from song to song which draws one’s attention away from the songwriting and toward the production. By enlisting the help of producers Wendy Melvoin (of Prince and The Revolution fame) and John Goodmanson (Death Cab, Blonde Redhead), it seems that the execs over at Geffen had their sights set on a market and The Like were more or less a perfect fit. Not to compare these three artists with any of their, let’s say, an-artistic labelmates. These girls, despite the extensive and mildly seductive photo shoot filling the liner notes, are not ones to be so easily bought and sold. They have put in time with independent releases and DIY shows, but perhaps they could have used a bit more of it all. The Like had barely graduated from high school when they signed to Geffen in ’04 and suddenly the story of a promising collective poised to challenge the just-add-water success of their MTV female counterparts seems to be slipping into the mixing bowl of corporate pop music. As I said earlier, “Are You Thinking” has a very concise charm about it, but the blatantly sculpted guitar sounds and all-too-clean vocal performances are anything but inviting. Hopefully one day these girls will become disillusioned at the blinking lights of a big studio and focus their attention on moving an audience rather than pleasing them. Or maybe they’ll get a sitcom. Who knows?