Ain’t to proud to grow

Al­bu­mofthe­week

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC REVIEWS - LAU­REN MUR­PHY

Since the tragic death of their band­mate Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes in 2002 and the sub­se­quent re­lease of their al­bum 3D, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Ro­zonda “Chilli” Thomas’ have kept a low pro­file, pub­lic ap­pear­ances re­served mostly for one-off awards shows or ac­knowl­edge­ments of their huge achieve­ments.

Yet 26 years af­ter first form­ing in At­lanta, peo­ple still want to hear what TLC have to say; a Kick­starter crowd­fund­ing cam­paign for this al­bum hit its $150,000 tar­get in just 48 hours.

Even so, a mere nos­tal­gia trip wouldn’t serve any­one. Although there’s a sen­ti­men­tal thread of 1990s R&B au­di­ble through­out – as well as nu­mer­ous ref­er­ences to the past, as heard on the slick thud of opener No In­tro­duc­tions – there’s also a sense that Watkins and Thomas are striv­ing to com­pete with their younger peers, many of whom have been in­flu­enced by them. It’s an odd po­si­tion to be in, but the duo work through it with aplomb. Haters is a clear stand­out, an an­them pro­mot­ing pos­i­tiv­ity and self-love that sounds like the street­wise older sis­ter of Tay­lor Swift’s Shake It Off. Scan­dalous takes their sul­try, sexy blue­print and holds it to a match un­til it ig­nites in a gutsy kick of glitchy fu­tur­ism; Snoop Dogg fea­tures on Way Back, an ode to their longevity, re­silience and friend­ship that name-drops “James Brown and Michael J”, while the joy­ous party disco-pop of It’s Sunny sub­tly sam­ples Earth Wind & Fire’s Septem­ber.

Like their pre­vi­ous hit Un­pretty – one of sev­eral old tracks un­nec­es­sar­ily tacked on to the track­list as a re­minder of how great TLC were – songs such as the em­pow­er­ing Per­fect Girls prove that TLC were al­ways worth lis­ten­ing to for more than just their mu­sic.

Their fifth and al­legedly fi­nal al­bum, proves that they’re still crazy, sexy, cool. of­fi­cialtlc.com

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