Who knew Dawson Leary was such a company man? Songs From Dawson's Creek suggests that the hit show's hero anesthetizes his angst by listening almost exclusively to Sony Music's third- and fourth-tier acts. It's fitting, in a way: Slogging through Columbia's self-serving cavalcade of slick unknowns is almost as unendurable as adolescence.
What the two best tracks, Sixpence None the Richer's ''Kiss Me'' and Paula Cole's ''I Don't Want to Wait,'' have in common besides coming from the only 2 non-Sony acts out of 14 is that you're already sick of them. But that'll be achieved on much shorter notice by Heather Nova's ''London Rain,'' Shooter's ''Life's a Bitch,'' and soundalike tunes from Shawn Mullins and Curtis Stigers (trend that can't die too soon: white boys knowingly speak-singing soulful folk over faux-Dust Brothers drum loops).
After that, it's nice to find native intelligence throughout the Felicity album, even if it does serve up Heather Nova again. Neil Finn's characteristic fusion of the mundane and mystic in ''She Will Have Her Way'' gets things off to a perfect gynocentric start, and any album that veers directly from primo Remy Zero to cool Air to vintage Aretha is smarter than the average coed.
But both albums eschew fun in favor of sullen self-esteem training. (Felicity reprises Sarah McLachlan's ''You deserve so much more than this,'' to good enough effect; Creek has Stigers less winningly warbling ''You deserve something reeeeeeeal.'') After all this teen-targeted hypersensitivity, I had to turn to an older soundtrack tune to express my own innermost feelings: Paul Lynde, from Bye Bye Birdie, belting out ''Kids! What's the matter with kids today?''
Dawson's Creek: D