Record Review - 1 August 21 2002

Except for her ever-changing hairdo, a predilection for day-glo clothing and a near-career-killing association with professional wrestling, Cyndi Lauper wasn’t all that unusual. Her chirpy ’80s hits made her a role model for teen girls who just wanted to have fun. However, after those 15 minutes expired, she became yet another few-hit wonder awaiting her VH-1 “Behind the Music” segment.

But Lauper never really went away. Although her ’90s albums didn’t click commercially, their buoyant mix of world beat, soul and trip-hop proved she was more talented than the helium-voiced caricature she portrayed in her most popular videos. Her latest, Shine, a self-released, five-song EP, is another step in that direction.

The opening title track is a near flawless mid-tempo production whose strings, bubbling synths and sweeping melody accompany one of Lauper’s strongest vocals. It deserves to be her much-needed comeback hit. Things falter slightly on the forced Go-Go’s pop-punk of “It’s Hard to Be Me.” But “Madonna Whore” — with its swampy programmed beats, snaky recorder and slithering lead guitar — is a winner, made more enticing by its controversial (at least for Lauper) lyrics. The “True Colors”-styled “Water’s Edge” is another stirring ballad. Here, Lauper shifts into adult- contemporary mode, but never allows the song to sink to the gaudy bombast of her diva tour-mate Cher.

An unnecessary dance remix of the lead track pushes Shine’s running time to a little over 20 minutes, making it just long enough to build anticipation for an album that fulfills the promise of this tantalizing sample.-- HAL HOROWITZ

Cyndi Lauper plays Philips Arena Fri., Aug. 27. She also performs and signs autographs earlier the same day at Borders Books, 3637 Peachtree Road.