By Marc Weingarten
Updated February 19, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

On their fourth album, this straight-outta-Illadelph septet maintain a high standard of verbal one-upmanship and lyrical inventiveness, spinning out trenchant inner-city dispatches with righteous fury, while the band’s judicious Fender Rhodes tinkling and jazzbo fingerpicking help stoke the album’s quiet storms. Unfortunately, their bland, mid-tempo beats are stuck in neutral, which only makes Things Fall Apart a great near-miss. B