This is a review of Ashlee Simpson‘s latest album, Bittersweet World. I present to you, the reader, a choice: You can continue on reading, or you can indignantly scowl and scroll away. I know the temptation to leave is burning deep into your fingertips. Trust me, I don’t blame you, but I do beg of you to reconsider your actions.

If you’re still with me, I thank you. Well actually, I don’t. Now there’s some built up pressure for me to prove my point. I don’t like that. This is my blog. I should be able to control the pressure level I’m feeling…Maybe you should just stop reading here, I don’t know if I can do this.

…You’re still here? Fine. Okay. Have it your way.

Bittersweet World is by no means a massive failure, but it will be, at least financially speaking. That’s not what I’m talking about here. Musically, the album succeeds. It is neither pretentious nor vain. Yes of course the lyrics are fresh and rude, but they’re tongue-in-cheek. If you haven’t come to that conclusion by the album’s end, then you’re taking this too seriously. The production level is perhaps the best out of her three album releases here. And, you know what? It’s fun.

Ashlee was once that person we all knew she was. I fully believe she had her sights set upon instant stardom from the get go, knowing the type of success Jessica once garnered. Except Ashlee chose the Avril path; The kind of faux-rocker intrigue that some pop stars like to exhibit that has the power to piss off the public like nothing else. With the family name and a capability to carry a
tune in tow, she went for it with Autobiography. The songs on the album were hardly vocally challenging, but the average crooner could not simply pull off “Pieces Of Me” or “La La” live without having a slight vocal range. She doesn’t. So, at the height of success, with one brief record skip and a mortifying little jig, Ashlee Simpson entertained the secret desires of the entire populous and failed miserably on live television.

And so, Ashlee Simpson was publicly destroyed. Her image could not and will never recover from the incident. Not to mention the following performances following the SNL show, featuring vocals that really should have been mimed to save us all a few moments of serenity shattered.

After Pieces Of Me, Ashlee returned with I Am Me, a semi-contrived attempt to ameliorate the damage. It was dicey, ironically enough–at times filled with truly killer so-bad-it’s-goodies such as “Boyfriend” and “L.O.V.E”, as well as a fair share of floppy crooners lamenting her mistakes and accepting her imperfections. Fair, but not good enough.

Two years later, “Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)” cropped up out of nowhere, serviced alongside a Dali-esque, surrealism themed music video featuring Ms. Simpson reaping havoc on her reputation and coming off as genuinely adorable for perhaps the first time in her career. The move was secretly a small stroke of genius. And after a few months, the production upon the originally named Color Outside The Lines was complete. And now, it is here.

In my not-so-humble opinion, Bittersweet World is Ashlee Simpson’s closest attempt to being Ashlee Simpson. I honestly believe this is all that she has to give us–and no, that’s not a criticism, per se. I don’t see Ashlee’s creative ability stretching farther than the semi ’80’s-evocative nature of this album. Each track’s drenched with a signature sarcastic nature and slightly smarter lyrics. “Use your head/But not that one/One track mind” she riffs in the middle eight of “Boys,” the second track off the album. She’s getting a bit cheekier lately, and it suits her much nicer than forced sincerity.

Now this album is no serious attempt for a comeback. I believe, however, that this is the right route to follow, especially considering the marriage and pregnancy announcements. Without ever seeming to try, Ashlee grooves along the squeaky electro beats and produces something entirely enjoyable that seems destined to fade into into oblivion before it’s even released. I wouldn’t come into this one expecting much. Once you don’t, you will receive. It’s a bit of a Buddhist notion, really. Who knew Ashlee could be so deep, after all?