Third-time Lucky?

Never in a million years would you imagine yourself listening to music like this and appreciating it; celebrating its very few strong points and overlooking the thousands of bad things about it. "Can I keep this Pen?" is the third album from this Long Island female trio, Northern State. Drenched in bouncy bass beats, splashes of electronica, toss in the more than occasional curse word and then coated with a baby-face, innocent, popular image...what more could the industry ask for?

Northern State are not special, we've seen this kind of thing done a thousand times before, but there's just something about them that spells success. The Beastie Boys originally made this brand of "Old School Hip Hop" popular and the girls have just taken it and given it a modern oomph, not to forget their own special something. Seven years on, though, the same band has not, as yet, made miraculous, outstanding progress in the industry. Why not, you dare ask? That's a good question. The answer: No-one knows. Could it be third time lucky?

Starting with "Mic Tester" a fantastic, fluorescent, fresh-prince-esque tune; bouncy, bubbly and an explosive start to the album, short and sweet. "Better Already" maintains the sense of excitement and promise about the band. Likewise tracks "Oooh Girl", "Mother May I?", "Away Away" and "Good Distance" do a damn good job in keeping the listener attentive and in the zone.

The album slips into a strenuous boredom when "Iluvitwhenya" comes along. It's just so very uninteresting, almost tedious. The bouncy euphoric anomaly we experienced at the start of the album, takes the back seat and we see a much more lacklustre side to the trio come to the fore. "Sucka Mofo" is quite the same and "Cold War" is like a really nasty Girls Aloud B-side.

This brief period somewhat detracts from your opinion of the band, you begin to wonder are they all what they started out as? Are they any good if they can't demand the listener and have them numb-struck for the duration of the album with a consecutive cycle of experimentation and innovation?

"Things I'll Do" redeems the band, with it's effervescent vintage-esque Hip Hop sound. It reassures you that your still listening to the same album you started off listening to. Up until now you're tore between deciding whither this album is good or not and "The Three Amigas" proves to be the track that makes up your mind, lively upbeat and overwhelming.

A roller-coaster album, ending with a sigh of relief.