Ashlee Simpson and Ryan Cabrera

Autobiography (Geffen) and Take It All Away (E.V.L.A./Atlantic)

A moment of silence, please, to mark the breakup of the most attractive young twosome of at least the last month and a half, Ashlee Simpson and Ryan Cabrera. The pairing seemed to have been inspired by the good Lord above, or at least the casting director of The O.C., and if they'd reproduced, their children would have been so unnaturally beautiful that onlookers would have turned into platinum at the mere sight of them. Knowing this undoubtedly adds to the pain felt by the couple in question, as well as by modeling agents of the future.

Then again, these CDs suggest that Ashlee and Ryan weren't nearly as compatible as they appeared to be. On Take It All Away, Cabrera cites breathing difficulties in no less than seven of twelve songs, and if he can't even figure out how to process oxygen, he certainly wouldn't have been able to handle a spitfire like the Divine Miss S. No wonder his lyrics keep returning to Splitsville. On "Exit to Exit," he mewls that he's "lost without your light," whereas "She's" asks the poignant question "Will I ever love again?" My guess is "yes," because sensitivity sells, even when it's as callow as this.

Simpson, on the other hand, has a lot more edge than her former beau, not to mention her plasticine sister, Jessica. The monster hit "Pieces of Me" sticks a little too closely to the Avril template, but the disc's title cut features an impassioned shout that's surprisingly credible, and "Love for Me" is among several tracks that rock far harder than anything conceived by the comparatively delicate Cabrera. The first time he heard her growl, "I like it better when it hurts" (a line from the enjoyably aggressive "Lala"), his lungs probably seized up.

Sorry, Ry. Love can be a cruel mistress.

 
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