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POP MUSIC | RECORD RACK

*** SWV, "Release Some Tension," RCA

September 28, 1997|Cheo Hodari Coker

SWV is the epitome of the label "ghetto fabulous"--the vocal trio favors a gum-snapping, "just-got-my-hair-and-nails-done" attitude that's a contrast to the ultra-glam look favored by En Vogue. And where the funky divas in En Vogue are a lot more subtle about their sexual overtures, SWV isn't afraid to tell a man exactly what they want.

"Release Some Tension," the trio's most consistently pleasing album yet, is a highly effective mix of hip-hop sass, sexual bravado and occasional sentimental yearnings. There's plenty for the jeep-beat set on an album whose supporting cast includes Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliot, Lil' Kim, Redman, E-40, Puff Daddy and Snoop Doggy Dogg. But the vocals truly shine when the women show off their gentler side. The sensual "Rain" and the stand-by-your-man devotional "Here for You" prove that these hard girls have a sensitivity and depth that figure to become more defined and refined as they mature.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good), four stars (excellent).

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* Excerpts from these albums and other recent releases are available on The Times' World Wide Web site. Point your browser to: http://www.latimes.com/soundclips

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