When the Norwegian girl duo M2M released their debut album, Shades of Purple (Atlantic), a few years back, they were immediately pegged as one of teen popís most promising acts. Like everyone else in the genre, teenage buddies Marion Raven and Marit Larsen utilized the services of mega-producer Max Martin, but they set themselves apart by doing the bulk of the writing, playing their own instruments, and injecting some real-life grit into the pop-star fantasy.
Itís impossible to root against the girls on their second and latest album, which retains the teen-friendly lyrical bent of their debut but favors introspective folk rock over dance pop. "Everything" kicks things off with appropriate bombast, exploding from a melancholy verse to a heartbroken chorus with a broad dash of vocal harmonies. The girlsí voices also shine on "Jennifer," where they issue a convincing her-or-me ultimatum to the boys of the world over a hoppiní roots-rock beat. They wake up on the wrong side of the bed on "Sometimes," but their studio band snap them out of it by kicking up the dustiest groove on the disc. M2M are too fond of diary goop, and their musical maturity often comes at the expense of hooks and fun. But next to the work of most of their peers, these songs remain undeniably cute and surprisingly sophisticated.
(M2M open for Jewel this Sunday, June 23, at FleetBoston Pavilion. Call 617-728-1600.)