"WAVES." Katrina & the Waves. Capitol.

Tired of female vocalists oohing and cooing or sniveling and snarling? Had it with songs that are cliched parades of one-dimensional sex kitten purrs or bitter men-are-beasts blasts?

Well, Katrina Leskanich and her Waves give female rock honor a shot in the arm with a batch of tunes presenting women as smart, loving, feisty, fun and able to hold their own come what may. A comparison between Katrina and Chrissie Hynde is hard to avoid, because of the awesome power and versatility of their voices and their ability to convey toughness and tenderness.

The group has grown beyond the easy, breezy tone of its first LP. One big change is in the songwriting credits: Guitarist Kimberly Rew, who wrote all the songs on the debut, contributes only two, as opposed to five by Leskanich and three by bassist Vince de la Cruz.

The opening cut is a scrappy, soulful shouter in which Katrina fires both barrels at the jerk who's trying to dump her. "Lovely Lindsey" is a somewhat ordinary hardball rocker and "Money Chain" is a slice of the '60s that never quite picks up steam. On the lighter side are an infectious dance confection, "Love That Boy," and "Sleep on My Pillow," a gentle, almost prayerful ballad.

But the highlight is Leskanich's "Riding Shotgun." Over the first chiming bursts of guitar, Katrina lets loose a gutsy howl and launches an engaging account of driving with her man, just talking over the day's events and savoring the scenery. It's clear she's on equal footing with him--none of that back-seat plaything bunk for her. Say goodby to subservience when Katrina's at the wheel.


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