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Review

Saying thanks to fans



Fanmail
TLC
BMG-Crescendo
Rs 125

With hits like Baby baby baby, Waterfall and Red light special behind them, TLC is all set to treat their fans to their third album, Fanmail.

The singing trio -- they call themselves T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli, and hence TLC -- owes its success to its unconventional blend of hip-hop, pop and soul.

TLC made their debut in 1992 and by 1994 had won a Grammy for best R&B performance. "We've heard of recording companies who have tried to put together groups like us, but no one can do it. It's the combination of our personalities and the chemistry between us that makes TLC what it is," says Left Eye.

TLC has been speaking out against drugs and Aids. The video for their Waterfall shows a woman coping with her son's drug abuse. It also talks about Aids. The song won four MTV awards.

What strikes you about TLC is the rawness of the voices; there is no modulation to sound melodious or more acceptable. Maybe it is for this reason that their voices emote so strongly. TLC's music cannot be described as pleasant or soothing. This is no lolli-pop; it reflects our troubled times and our harried lives.

Fanmail is dedicated to any person who has ever sent them fanmail. It is difficult again to attach a genre tag to this one. It bends the limits and sounds of hip-hop, pop and soul to arrive at an unfamiliar but attractive blend.

I'm good at being bad reminds you of their earlier hit Waterfall, and also snatches the refrain from Donna Summers' Love to love you baby. The beat is well worked out. The next song just takes off; there is no break. This strengthens the impression that the album is a seamless bonding of styles and beats.

If they knew has a tabla-like sound in its beat, making it charmingly fresh. Impeccable vocals with solo stretches add to the overall impressiveness.

No scrubs has an interesting beat. It has been on the music channels, and on the Billboard top ten for a month now. The violins with their straight, sustained notes emphasize the clarity of the voices.

I miss you so much, a slow love ballad, has a tender guitar and piano accompaniment.

Unpretty is about being beautiful inside. "It's a girl's anthem because I know a lot of women who are insecure. Society makes them feel unpretty," says T-Boz, on whose poem it is based. Cheerfully paced, it has its heart in the right place, but is no great shakes musically.

My life is bleak has a deep bass and unfamiliar sounds in the background as it raps out a statement of individual freedom.

Shout is a little Arabic in its chord progressions. Come on down and Dear Lie like I miss you so much are also more conventional pop songs. Lovesick uses odd sounds of communication lines and satellite links.

Automatic has a heavy beat. Don't pull out on me yet is remarkable for its underplayed vocals and slow tempo. The trumpets in the background and the beat approach a blues style, but the song maintains its TLC identity.



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