Significant Other (Flip/Interscope 90335)
Nobody can accuse Limp Bizkit of thinking too highly of itself.
Practically the first thing we hear on "Significant Other," the Florida-based quintet's sophomore release, is an electronically altered voice saying: "You wanted the worst? You got the worst!"
Never mind that the line is in part poking fun at Kiss, which opens its concerts with the boast, "You wanted the best? You got the best!" Deep down, the point the guys in Limp Bizkit are trying to make is that they're not rock gods. They're just average screw-ups, like everybody else.
Maybe that's why "Significant Other" ends up as an album full of mea culpas. Despite its seemingly salacious title, "Nookie" is not about the joy of sex; instead, it finds singer Fred Durst talking about how he let his girlfriend take advantage of him because he was a fool for love. So when he gets to the chorus catch-phrase -- "I did it all for the nookie" -- what we hear is more self-recrimination than boast.
Nor is that the only song on the album that takes a cautionary attitude toward hormonal indulgences. "No Sex" opens with the couplet, "Went too fast, way too soon/I feel disgusted and so should you." As the song progresses, Durst laments the fact that "sex is all I know about you."On paper, that may make Limp Bizkit seem, if not entirely wholesome, at least the sort of band morality expert William Bennett would approve of. Guess again. Not only do the lyrics boast enough profanity to make the album's parental advisory sticker wholly warranted, but Limp Bizkit's sound also combines Bennett's least favorite music: rap and metal.
But where other bands working the hip-hop/hard rock fusion simply paste a few rap verses over standard-issue shred, Limp Bizkit offers a genuine middle ground between the two, working off a beat that's genuinely funky even when the band is in full headbanger mode. That's definitely the case with "Nookie," where the groove drummer John Otto and bassist Sam Rivers develop remains hard and funky regardless of whether guitarist Wes Borland is playing a slinky, Primus-style rhythm lick or has his ax cranked to full crunch.
"Break Stuff," by contrast, starts off with a guitar sound as loud and aggressive as the stay-outta-my-way lyric. But instead of turning the song into a sonic pummeling, Borland alternates between building tension and delivering total release.
Writing a "feel good" song about being mad enough to "Break Stuff" isn't everybody's idea of role-model behavior. But it's definitely a situation most listeners can relate to, and in that sense, Limp Bizkit is better at keeping it real than most rap acts. ***1/2
This Moment Is Mine (MCA 11674)
These days, female R&B; stars too often seem driven to extremes, either offering epic romantic ballads or down-and-dirty sex ditties. Fortunately, there are a few like Chante Moore who know how to have their sex and make it romantic, too. "This Moment Is Mine" opens with "If I Gave Love," a slinky, sensual song about the doubts women have about going too far, too fast. But what makes the track so attractive isn't just the itchy groove producer Rodney Jerkins sets up behind Moore; it's also the obvious hunger in her voice. Likewise, the bluesy "Chante's Got a Man" owes its kick as much to Moore's gospel-schooled testifying as to any of the sisterhood sentiment in the lyrics. A wonderfully soulful recording. ***
Tracie (Capitol 34282)
A few years ago, the big beat for R&B; records was bass-heavy and punchy, physical in the most blunt and brutal way. Now, however, it's twitchy and insistent, more a tickle than a slap, and that has changed a lot about the way R&B; is sung. So when Tracie Spencer rides the snaky, sensual pulse of "If U Wanna Get Down," what comes across is simmering sensuality, an attitude that makes the song's sexual content seem far more suggestive than the generally mild lyrics would otherwise warrant. Much the same could be said for the rest of "Tracie," from the Aaliyah-like bump-and-grind of "It's All About You (Not About Me)" to the languid, scratch-spiked thump of "Not Gonna Cry." ** 1/2
Prelude to a Grand Love Story (Yellow Productions/Atlantic 83203)
What's the difference between a DJ and a producer? In the clubs, the answer is obvious, but in the studio, things aren't so clear-cut -- especially when dealing with an album like Kid Loco's "Prelude to a Grand Love Story." To begin with, the Kid doesn't do techno, trance or any typical form of dance music; instead, his songs shimmy and sway to beats ranging from slinky psychedelica to moody, Middle Eastern music. But the remixers he works with do, so his songs are presented in multiple versions, each with its own unique flavor. In fact, some of the versions of "Love Me Sweet" are so radically different from one another that it's hard to believe they're actually the same song. But then, isn't such stylistic variety what we expect from DJ music? ***
* = poor
** = fair
*** = good
**** = excellent