Breaking Britney’s Mold

M2M, a female teen duo, who, like teen guitar girl Michelle Branch, pen their own paeans to adolescent love and lust, hails from the icy suburbs of Oslo, Norway.

Marion Raven, a rather seductive, dark-eyed beauty of 17, and Marit Larsen, a Nordic, girl-next-door blond of 18, met when they were five years old. Before long, they were best friends, singing and dancing together every time a tune crossed their ears. A few years later, according to their personal Web site, the two youths were showing off their performance skills on stage in musicals, such as Annie, The Sound of Music, Bugsy Malone and The Wizard of Oz.

In 1994, Raven and Larsen inked their first record deal with a Norwegian imprint and released a collection of children’s songs that sold well in their homeland. When they returned to the studio to record a follow-up, the girls opted for pop rather than children’s tunes. They began practicing the piano and guitar and wrote lyrics in English “so more people could understand our message.”

The result was Shades of Purple, and it got picked up by behemoth Atlantic Records. The CD made the girls stars in Europe. For their latest release, The Big Room, M2M appear poised to reach an even broader audience, thanks to an opening slot with respected singer/songwriter Jewel and a batch of songs that, although far from mature by adult standards, is rife with the kind of real emotion absent on a Britney Spears record.

The highlight of the album, which consists entirely of songs either written or co-written by Raven and Larsen, is the closing ballad “Eventually.” In it, the girls sing simple lines such as “a hint of a smile/as your hand touches mine/ no longer alone/I feel them entwine,” while a soft string-laden melody dances in the background. Simple lyrics, but they’re sung with the kind of passion that only someone who has experienced the subject matter, first hand, can muster.

Is the love they’re reflecting on real? If the relationship transpired while the girls were teens (which must be the case, considering the authors’ ages), then, probably not. But, I bet you the pain and joy they felt was indeed real to them when they wrote it and becomes real again each time they perform it.

Would I buy the CD? Not unless it came with a $50 coupon. However, I think there are a lot of young girls out there who will cherish and hang on to every word this promising duo offers. Their voices are angelic, and their hearts are in the right place. Give them another five years, and M2M may be penning and performing songs that individuals of all ages can relate to. For now, the teen pop they’re putting out makes for a far better meal that Britney Spears’ nauseating brand of bubble gum.