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Emmys 2017
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Wilson Phillips

Posted on

Wilson Phillips

Current Status:
In Season
SBK Records

We gave it a C-

No, they’re not a WASP law firm. Instead, you might call the three young women in this group pop music princesses. That’s because two of them are daughters of Beach Boy Brian Wilson; the parents of the third are John and Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas. They’ve been friends since they were babies.

But calling them ”princesses” isn’t quite fair. Their lives haven’t been easy. You can guess that even if you haven’t read biographies of their parents. Just skim the lyrics of such songs as ”Hold On” (the first Wilson Phillips single)or ”Release Me,” or scan the more than 70 thank-yous on the album notes, which, underneath their bubbling optimism, hint — like the lyrics — at pain conquered and obstacles overcome.

What the future holds is harder to read. Wilson Phillips followed what’s now a common commercial practice: They established a fan club even before their first album was released. ”Hold On” is breaking out both on the pop charts and on MTV. But musically all that these three women seem to have going for them are voices that ring out (especially in harmony) like happy young bells. As songwriters, they seem to stumble onto catchy moments while piecing together music that, taken as a whole, has very little profile.

Even the songs by more experienced hands don’t amount to much. Still, there’s something appealing about the Wilson Phillips brand of bright and almost artless pop. I’ll forgive them — almost — for putting out an album that sounds mostly like a rehearsal for the more finished music they might someday make. And even if they somehow strike platinum their first time out, I hope they won’t stop trying to improve. C-