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Esthero 

Wikked Lil' Grrrls (Reprise)

Nine times out of 10, when someone complains about being "so sick and tired of the shit on the radio and MTV," as this young Canadian singer does right at the top of her second album, it's because he or she isn't listening. Not so with Esthero.

All over the stylistically ambitious (if dubiously titled) Wikked Lil' Grrrls, the 26-year-old demonstrates her admirable grasp of current sounds. She calls in favors from such radio and MTV fixtures as Andre 3000 and Cee-Lo Green, and demonstrates her ability to sing over everything from Fiona Apple-style art-pop to smoothed-out R&B to the sort of big-band hip-hop that Blu Cantrell once made famous for approximately 14 minutes. So Esthero's problem with pop isn't that it doesn't do the right things; it's that it doesn't go far enough with them. She doesn't either, of course; even if our wait is over for a track pairing rainforest percussion with electroclash bass, "We R in Need of a Musical ReVoLuTIoN" can't help but fall short of its goal. Still, this wikked grrrl's frustration is to our benefit.

More by Mikael Wood

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