Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman have given their third album a portentous title: Eroica (”heroic”) is best known in music as the name of Beethoven’s gigantic Third Symphony. But they don’t need to puff up their work. The first song on the record, ”Rainbow Lake,” is an absolute delight: It moves with the liquid ease of a brook, bearing pattering taps and clicks of percussion along like fresh spring twigs in the flow; a recurring chorus floats up alluringly. These two women (who played guitar and keyboards in Prince’s band the Revolution) are masters of musical production, and they sing with carefree, understated longing.
At the end of that chorus, though, the tune takes a curious turn, becoming darker and momentarily obscure. Even though the second song, ”Strung Out,” is just as luscious and thoughtful as ”Rainbow Lake,” this unexpected complication is an early sign of trouble. The lyrics throughout the album are close to impenetrable. Clearly they’re about important things — kinks in relationships, deep philosophies of life — but it’s hard to say precisely what. So when the music is anything less than entirely enchanting, the songs start to seem mannered.
Still, this is a striking record: complex, varied, intensely personal, and hard to classify in any pop genre (even if a slithery kind of funk is never far from the surface). Maybe it’s most delectable if taken in small doses, a few songs at a time. B