September 10, 2001 12:00 PM

Better Than Ezra (Beyond)

Their name is bizarre, their career path rocky. So of course this New Orleans trio has a cult of devotees: the Ezralites. The band lost one member to suicide before their first disc was released, and later their original drummer bolted from the group. Now, a year after being dropped by their former label because of creative differences, BTE weighs in with its best album yet.

It’s a wonder their music has remained largely sunny. The main reason is singer-songwriter Kevin Griffin, who has a soaring voice and a knack for inspirational-sounding choruses. A rousing song like “A Lifetime” is pure American pop, custom-built for those Bic-lighter-waving moments at arena concerts. But BTE delves into more experimental territory with “Recognize,” which features some inventive turntable-scratching and rapping. “Extra Ordinary” combines pop and experimental sounds in a poignant love song that sweetly boasts, “I got more hooks than Madonna got looks.”

Bottom Line: Better than ever

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