From Donna Summer's Bad Girls to Kiss Unmasked, Casablanca Records graphics always told a story. Lindsay Lohan's Speak (Casablanca), aka LiLo Unstitched, is the story of a girl and her six-stringed pony. On the back cover she's cradling the purple Les Paul ("stars" for fret markers) between her legs, and on the inside she's holding the now-broken guitar below her waist, in a pose suggesting the Gibson was split by vaginal energy—like if Sheryl Crow was back in the '70s and had Hipgnosis do her album covers, which means Casablanca is focusing on the Euro market for real. The other inside pictures (barring the family collage) are more typical disco decadence, but aren't as good as the Mean Girls "Christmas costume" stills, if the other spaz had been cut out of the picture.
The hejira of Laura Slater "rocked" Napanee like nothing since the Richmond Landfill expansion, and LiLo is Olivia to Avril's Joni. I should inform consumers that the second time I played the title track, I burst into tears in front of the computer. "Speak" is what Ray of Light would sound like if its songs had been as good as on Madonna's first album. The cymbal crashes at the end make the ending really intense, and the song ends on an unaccompanied vocal note, as do four other songs. "Symptom of You" doesn't, but the final "la-la-LAH" is very purposeful. The "You" is apparently "mental retardation," avatar of which being somewhere between "Heart's Got a Mind of Its Own" and "Sweet Leaf" ("It's a left kind of right/A blind kind of sight" . . . note songwriters Carlsson/Greene/Kotecha's use of internal rhyme). That "Over" is the next single proves nü-metal/goth modes have displaced the blues pentatonic scale for the pop demographic and are making inroads into the country one as well.
LiLo sings the cage-dance soundtrack "Rumors" like she's feeling emotional also—"I just want to dance and have a good time," she says, like she's praying to Sigourney Weaver before leading an android-slave revolt on an asteroid mine colony, or in the church scene in Disney's reimagining of I Spit on Your Grave. The drummer is Jeff Rothschild, who was on the Kelly Clarkson and Ashlee Simpson records. Other vocal highlights on the album include the Travolta-circa-"Sandy" "us" in "betweeeeeeeeen . . . [music drops out] . . . us," and the repetition of the same trick on the next track, the attractive "Magnet" (where the final "you" in "'cause I'm lovin' you, you, you, you . . . you" is also great). "You," "away," and "nights" (and everything that rhymes with them, obv.) are excellent words to have in songs because the singer can use any vowel sound they want, and get creative. "Get retarded," even. ("The Richmond Landfill is American owned" and other facts can be obtained from the Ontario Safe Water Group, www.safewater.org. The story of Laura Slater can be found in the archives of the Napanee Beaver, at www.napaneebeaver.com; scroll the left-screen menu to "Avril Lavigne articles.")