Two years ago Smith seemed to hit bottom, both figuratively and literally, with a disappointing second album (Radio Ethiopia) and a disabling fall from a stage in Florida. But Wave, her second LP since the accident, shows the New York poet turned rocker has rebounded better than ever. As usual, Smith forgoes the grooveworn themes common to top-10 radio; her combustiye rock is at least off-center and sometimes threatens to wobble into another dimension altogether. The title cut is an imagined conversation with Pope John Paul I; Dancing Barefoot, a song that seemingly alludes to the Virgin Mary's annunciation, is dedicated to the mistress of Modigliani. Those easily offended will be. Less abstractly, Todd Rundgren's crisp production cannot keep Patti from swallowing some lyrics whole. Otherwise wave washes well.