A Dove

You remember the Roches: Maggie, Terre, and Suzzy, the offbeat three-sister Manhattan folk act that charmed most of the known world with their 1979 debut. Now they’re gracious vets, still proffering quirky, mildly subversive songs and VH-1-friendly harmonies wherever they can. The Roches are best in concert, where their familial humor and extensive catalog meet. Records, unfortunately, have become routine and uninspired. A Dove‘s first track is the ringing, singing ”Ing,” Terre’s ode to the gerundive suffix. It’s a chiming, rhyming (get the picture?) novelty (”I had a little fling/That we won’t be mentioning”) that the sisters’ entwined, arching harmonies fill with beauty. But that’s ”A Dove”’s high point. There’s still some subversiveness in the Roches’ folkiness — the Dixieland tinged ”You’re the Two” is a nice, distaff send-up of polygamy — but too much of the record is unmelodic, almost bland. They try, but they simply can’t give us what we want: another ”Ing.” C+