Tick, Tick . . . Boom!

Before the late composer Jonathan Larson created Rent, he was working on Tick, Tick . . .

Before the late composer Jonathan Larson created Rent, he was working on Tick, Tick . . . Boom! Larson's rumination on turning 30 is now enjoying a posthumous off-Broadway production and its first recording. Rent fans will find familiar themes: reconciling artistic integrity with financial reality, juggling love and personal ambition, coping with sex in the age of AIDS. Musically, too, the rock-inflected score is similar to Rent, albeit smaller in scale. Larson's humor is evident on such numbers as "Therapy" and "Sunday," while his grasp of his generation's underlying angst comes through in the anthemic "Louder Than Words" and wrenching "Why." Amy Spanger soars on "Come to Your Senses"—a ballad borrowed from Larson's even-earlier, never-produced show, Superbia. The disc closes with a rare treat: Larson himself singing the later-dropped "Boho Days," on a 1993 demo made during the development of Tick, Tick . . . Boom!—WH