By Tom Sinclair
April 07, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

No, the author of ”Heroin” hasn’t recorded a concept album about the designer drug–he’s cleaned up his act, in case you haven’t heard. But Lou Reed is as preoccupied with the dark side as ever. The stern, stripped-down opus Ecstasy is full of verbose meditations on sexual pathology, race relations, and disintegrating relationships. The musicianship is consistently mesmerizing (the 18-minute ”Like a Possum”), but Ecstasy‘s unrelenting grimness makes the Velvet Underground sound like a comedy act. B-