March 08, 1999 12:00 PM

TLC (LaFace)

Album of the week

Years before it became a marketing slogan, Girl Power was being championed by TLC. The Atlanta-based trio’s fly-girl feminism (a sexy combo of vulnerability and in-your-face attitude), plus pop and R&B hits like “Creep,” “Waterfalls” and “Baby, Baby, Baby,” made TLC the biggest-selling female group in the U.S. After being AWOL for five years due to a litany of legal and internal problems, Tionne Watkins, Rozonda Thomas and Lisa Lopes are back, and they have been worth the wait. Among FanMail’s 17 cuts, the trio’s softer side emerges on the more subdued, acoustic, mid-tempo ballads, of which “Unpretty’ “Dear Lie,” both cowritten by Watkins, are the best. As for attitude, the CD is peppered with it. On tracks such as “Silly Ho” with its hyped-up bass and drum, “I’m Good At Being Bad” with its lip-smacking nastiness, and the title song, with its futuristic clang and bang, the trio blends old-style girl-group harmonies with edgy, electronic background noise. The result is a modern sound with sass, and it has made Watkins, Thomas and Lopes cyber Supremes for a new generation.

Bottom Line: Radio-friendly girl pop for the 21st century

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