October 25, 1999 12:00 PM

Indigo Girls (Epic)

Album of the week

They may not pack the cultural jolt the electrified Dylan once did, but it is still something of a shock to find a pair of dyed-in-the-flannel folkies like the Indigos blasting away on plugged-in guitars. The Grammy-winning folk duo of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers has been putting out amped-up albums for a few years now, but they’ve never before rocked out as smartly as they do on “Go,” the sinewy, reverberating opening track of this, their seventh major label release. Here they present the song’s call to neo-feminist action (“Don’t take a seat/ Don’t stand aside/This time don’t assume anything”) as the kind of brainy power ballad that their Athens, Ga., neighbor, R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, might sing. Other candidates for radio play include “Trouble,” propelled by an updated Bo Diddley beat, and “Peace Tonight,” a brightly wrought mid-tempo rocker that showcases the Girls’ harmonies in a sparkling pop setting. Revered by fans for their lovely vocals and topical, passionate songs, they’ve also been knocked as overly earnest. Dispersed among tunes like the country rocker “Cold Beer and Remote Control” and the harder “Compromise” are more traditional, country-flavored acoustic ballads that shine. Closing the album with an old-timey Irish-Appalachian reel, the Girls show they’ve come a long, long way, baby, with an eerie industrial hidden track.

Bottom Line: Colorful outsiders shoot for pop’s mainstream

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