How good is TLC
? So good that they survive the tragic, early death of a key member -- Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes
was killed in a car accident during the recording of 3D
-- with grace and style, turning out a record that sits comfortably next to their modern classics, Crazysexycool
. Perhaps surviving members Chilli
spend a little too much time in the lyrics paying tribute to their colleague, but it's easy to glide past that and just concentrate on the strong songwriting and stylish production. Like their previous albums, the particulars don't matter as much as the overall impression. No member of TLC
has an astounding voice, but their skills are exploited to the hilt, since the material not only suits them, it's melodic, memorable, and grows in stature with each play. Best of all, the production plays to the strength of the song, balancing the group's character and abilities with the hooks and character of the song. Perhaps 3D
doesn't blaze trails like their other albums, but it never plays it safe and it always satisfies, and it's one of the best modern soul albums of 2002. A bittersweet triumph, perhaps, but it's better to go out on a positive note.