Rites of Passage

Even when they address strictly adult concerns — a newfound appreciation for Virginia Woolf, a poet’s suicide — the pop-folk Indigo Girls (Emily Saliers and Amy Ray) show a distinctly adolescent sensibility. That works for and against them on their fifth record, Rites of Passage. Some lyrics could have been spawned by classroom assignments: If a 10th-grade English teacher had asked for a love poem with a literary allusion, lines like ”I know now how it feels/To be weakened like Achilles/With you always at my heels” (”Ghost”) would have earned a scrawled ”Excellent!” Sometimes the melodies sound too impeccably groomed to spill any real guts. Still, Indigo Girls’ honey-blond harmonies are lustrous, and the jangly cheerfulness of ”Galileo” is almost as charming as a crooked smile laced with braces. Better yet, the vibrant, ragged-edge guitars on ”Chickenman” and ”Joking” suggest that they have spent time hangin’ with the bad kids in the garage — spending a little more might help loosen the mighty grip of the English teacher. B-

Rites of Passage
  • Music