We gave it a B
In liner notes on their new album, the Pointer Sisters say they’ve grown during their long career until they’ve found the ”right rhythm.” Hence the album’s title, though maybe it carries another message: ”We know we’ve made some disappointing records over the last five years,” the sisters might be saying. ”Now we’ve found our groove again.”
And they have. Right Rhythm is full of spanking fresh rock and R&B bounce. On such slower songs as ”After You” and ”What a Woman Wants,” it blossoms into something warm, rich, and moving.
A cautionary number about drug abuse called ”Billy Said Yes” strikes a contemporary note. A CD and tape bonus track, ”(We Just Wanna) Thank You,” greets a new decade with a gratitude that, when the group sings about ”hanging through the ups and downs,” seems to be addressed to loyal fans. That interpretation slips in only as a subtext. In fact, Anita Pointer thanks her family, the group’s new record company, and the album’s producer; Ruth Pointer thanks Jesus; and June Pointer, entering the ’90s clearly ready for anything, thanks ”that fine hunk over there.”
The music on the album has a few advanced touches, even a taste, here and there, of the sonic recycling such artists as Tony! Toni! Toné! have brought to R&B from rap. At the beginning of ”Billy Said Yes,” we hear distorted electronic samples of the three sisters’ voices; on ”Insanity” there are oddly processed keyboards.
But these moments pass. Most of the music is traditional pop, rock, and R&B, though spiffily up-to-date. The thoughts in the lyrics tend to be traditional, too. ”What a Woman Wants” might strike some listeners as old-fashioned: What women really want (or so says the gospel according to Anita, Ruth, and June) is to be held tight and told they’ll be loved forever.
Even if women these days want more than that, the song is tender and passionate enough to remind us that men, too, like to be hugged. The Pointer Sisters break no new ground in music (or in human relations). But they have made an album that’s sometimes touching, and most of the time lots of fun.