Protection

Even with the departure of the smoky-voiced Shara Nelson, this English dance-pop outfit still delivers brilliant body music that doesn't neglect the brain. Cool, sexy stuff, it smoothly fuses dub, club and soul, grounding its grace in sampled hip-hop beats. With four vocalists on board — Everything but the Girl's Tracey Thorn, reggaeman Horace Andy, Nigerian-born Nicolette and rapper Tricky — Protection lacks the focus of the masterful 1991 debut Blue Lines. But it lingers longer. "Karmacoma," "Sly" and the instrumental "Heat Miser" sizzle and insinuate; band members 3-D, Mushroom and Daddy G are ruminators, too, who expertly render mixed emotion — passion crossed with sadness or the tension of glamour and threat that surges through "Eurochild": "I walk in a bar, and immediately I sense danger."

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