The last few years have seen an avalanche of sharp-dressed, smooth-talking, hip-hop-flavored R&B acts, and the kings of the heap are Jodeci. Their 1991 debut, Forever My Lady, went multiplatinum, and their recent cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Lately” hit the Top 10. All of which makes Diary of a Mad Band one of the more anticipated R&B records in a longtime. DeVante Swing, chief architect of the quartet’s sound, lives up to his surname, giving Jodeci’s soaring harmonies a rock-solid foundation of bass lines and making cuts like “You Got It” or “In the Meanwhile” leap from the speakers.
But something here leaves a bad taste. Despite Jodeci’s lush ballads, a few of their ballistic, up-tempo tracks are laced with a lyric swagger that sees women as objects of ridicule or simply prey. When you have Jodeci’s skill, it seems dumb lo squander it on theme music for the Spur Posse. (Uptown/MCA)