I've got absolutely no problem with the Y2K+ pop model of producer-as-star: Timbaland; the Neptunes; Jermaine Dupri; shit, Jerry Finn--these folks practically guarantee a good time, with high-level artistry an occasional fringe benefit and brand-name consistency a handy way to organize skipping around the radio dial. But the Matrix, as much as I love 'em for "Complicated" and "Sk8er Boi" and a few tunes on the new Liz Phair disc, already seem to be running out of ideas, barely a year after first making a name for themselves as the architects of Avril Lavigne's mall-rock dream come true. The evidence? "It's About Time," the debut single by Lillix, four British Columbian hotties aiming for the fertile aesthetic crescent that lies between Lavigne and, say, Pee Shy. As far as your afternoon drive time is concerned, the tune's great: strummy acoustic-guitar verse, chunky electric-guitar chorus, fembot vocal harmonies, "whatever" and "crawling" and "no clue" in the lyrics. But those are the exact same reasons "Complicated" works, and the Matrix's co-writing credit doesn't allow a single speck of possibly illuminating Lillix-ness to temper their own proven Matrix-ness, so we just get more of the same. Which could be worse, duh. (Like Glen Ballard, who turns Falling Uphill's "24/7" into useless sub-Corrs mush.) But who are these girls? What do they think about high school? And what's Canada like? Hegemony: What a bummer.
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Mikael Wood

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