Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Michael Jackson: Dangerous [Epic, 1991]
It's hard to hear through the oversell, but--especially if you ignore the faith-hope-and-charity, bringing it down under an hour--this is plainly his most consistent album since Off the Wall, a step up from Bad even if its hookcraft is invariably secondary and its vocal mannerisms occasionally annoying. Teddy Riley acting alone has never manufactured such abrasively unpredictable beats, much less the singer to top them--if they're not as catchy as a 10-year-old might hope, that's just Michael riding the rhythmic moment, as always. And though it's futile to analyze the love life of an invisible man who's convinced he's more popular than the Beatles now, he's hawking the most credible sex-and-romance of his career. "In the Closet" implores his mystery woman to keep their--get this--"lust" behind closed doors. Soon he's going wild, or fabricating desperate nostalgia for their used-to-be. And then he's muttering "Can't Let Her Get Away" through clenched teeth--mantralike, over and over into the void. Coulda happened, doncha think? With Brooke Shields maybe? A-