Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Janet Jackson: The Velvet Rope [Virgin, 1997]
Why do I believe that this self-made object's mild kink and coyly matter-of-fact bisexuality are functions of flesh pure and simple? That for her sex really is about pleasure rather than power--or even, except as a side issue, love? Because her sex songs are flavorful where her love songs are all cliche, and because her much-berated fluting little-girl timbre whispers innocence even when she's loosening her new friend's pretty French gown. So in the absence of total personal fulfillment, here's hoping she retains her ability to feign delight, to fool herself as well as everyone else. A-