Jewel, M2M

Lots of complicated women's hair in Dallas this week--Britney Spears, Sheryl Crow, Kittie--but this is the real mother lode: Alaskan airhead Jewel, who sports a long blond mane on the cover of This Way, and Norwegian Olsen Twins look-alikes M2M, whose highlights probably cost more than their airfare. Jewel's smart to distract us with her enviable 'do, since so much of the brittle folk-pop on This Way is as flat as a three-day-old latte; though she tricked the folks at HarperCollins into publishing A Night Without Armor, her slim volume of slimmer poetry, the singer remains an astonishingly trite lyricist, endlessly thinking up new ways to ask questions like, "They say that Jesus loves you/What about me?" If her tresses ever lose their luster, she ought to drop the literary ambitions and just write more of the prosaic charmers that always end up her hits--This Way's "Standing Still" is as satisfying as a great wash 'n' cut and as gleefully temporary. M2M understand those ephemeral pleasures, which is why their second album, The Big Room, feels like 37 minutes' worth of "Standing Still"s. Being teen-agers, Marion Raven and Marit Larsen don't bother digging deeper than "Miss Popular" (where they tell that rich bitch at school that "everybody hates you"), and why should they? Producer Jimmy Bralower makes sure that the hairspray guitars and shampoo keyboards signify what the words don't (driving around, making out, shopping for new skirts), and Raven and Larsen have a good time being there, tossing their heads and wondering, "How easy is this?"
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Mikael Wood