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July 28 - August 4, 2000

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**1/2 k.d. Lang


(Warner Bros.)

In concert, k.d. lang sometimes introduces "Constant Craving" by saying, "Now I'd like to sing a medley of my hit," ruefully acknowledging that such recent albums as the neurotic All You Can Eat and the nicophilic cover set Drag weren't the stuff of radio programmers' dreams. At times, her first album of original material in five years seems a concerted effort to rectify this situation. "The Consequences of Falling" is Ingenue redux, from its atmosphere of might-be-requited longing to the opening phoneme of its hook. But the centerpieces are two singles-in-waiting that comb beaches from Malibu to Bahia for sun-dappled sounds. "Summerfling" opens with Surfaris-style drumming, touches on bossa nova and Greek-restaurant music, then lands on a brief chorus of vocal interplay à la "Good Vibrations." The slighter "It's Happening with You," with its cheesy organ and classic disco strings, splits the difference between '60s and '90s discothèquerie.

If its other songs placed lang's voice in such playful settings, Invincible Summer might live up to its name. But on the album's mostly mid-tempo second half, producer/William Orbit henchman Damaian Le Gassick grafts Ray of Light-lite electroburbles onto the singer's customary strings and pedal steels -- a compromise that will please neither classicists nor trip-hoppers. Lang herself contributes to the overload with lugubrious, love-positive lyrics that find her either overwhelmed by bliss ("Pull me under, eternal wave") or addled into flaky philosophizing ("To know of love, sacrifice/Is a truth of living life"). The best moments of Invincible Summer are buoyant, but too many of these drowned-torch songs sound merely waterlogged.

-- Franklin Bruno
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