Picks and Pans Review: Bed

updated 09/14/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/14/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Juliana Hatfield (Zoƫ)

Before Alanis Morissette and Liz Phair, there was Hatfield, alternative rock's prototypical angry young woman. Tough but sweet, she cultivated a devoted following as a singer, songwriter and bass player for the Blake Babies in Boston in the late '80s and early '90s. The standout tracks on this, her fourth full-length solo album (on which she plays guitar and keyboards), highlight what she does best: innocent songs about stormy relationships. Trouble is, the once-precocious singer hasn't progressed much, either lyrically or musically, beyond her signature outraged stance. Hatfield can still wield her girlish voice like a stiletto, as she does on "Sneaking Around," a rage-filled account of an adulterous fling, but the song's snide lyrics and languid arrangement don't cut nearly as deep. It's as if Hatfield were still upset with a lover whose name she can't recall, or as she sings on "Bad Day," "I made my bed all by myself/ Now I don't sleep in it so well."

Bottom Line: Strong talent sleepwalks

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