Fascinating Friction

PERFORMER: 10,000 MANIACS

ALBUM: OUR TIME IN EDEN

LABEL: ELEKTRA

THE BOTTOM LINE: Sandblasted lyricism and a new rhythmic restlessness carry this band to its best album yet.

Careful: you are about to be disoriented. Consider, first, the music of 10,000 Maniacs, which is spectral and delicate without a moment of fragility. Then think about the lyrics, which insinuate themselves into the subconscious like a waking dream. And finally, ponder lead singer, key writer and prime mover Natalie Merchant, whose earthbound strength sets up a fascinating friction with the impregnable magic of the music. She's a private writer in a public...

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