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Destiny's Child

Destiny Fulfilled (Columbia)

With the release of Survivorin 2001, Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams proved once and for all that despite the roster changes, the bad press and the drama, they are the world's best packaged R&B supergroup, a perfect triumvirate of strength, talent and beauty. Three years later, and after basking in solo shine, they come back together for Destiny Fulfilled, an 11-entry diary about the highs and lows of love, from sexual and spiritual bliss to pain, longing, insecurity and, ultimately, healing.

The house-y, Rodney Jerkins-conceived "Lose My Breath," with its possessed drums, is an exercise in bootyliciousness that's making women everywhere shake (like Beyoncé, that is) and men tremble. Surprisingly, the standout singer isn't Beyoncé, it's Kelly, whose supple soprano delivers the most exquisite verse and "ooo" of them all.

The rest of the disc is smoother, with sufficient bounce, thumps and knocks to keep the listener enthralled. Take "Soldier," the second single featuring hood laureates T.I. and Lil' Wayne. Titillating snares and a steady, rims-spinning 808 pulse provide the ideal backdrop for the girls' thug love anthem: "We like them boys that be in them 'lacs leaning / Open they mouth they grill gleaming / Candy paint keep that wheel clean... / Eyes be so low from that chiefin'."

Chickenhead posturing aside, it's clear B, Kelly and Michelle are wholesome ladies. "Cater 2 U," for instance, isn't just a ballad, it's a menu full of pleasures they're willing to give their men. Though overly submissive, it's still very sweet. Along the same vein is "T-shirt," a slow-grinding jam dripping with melodic sensuality and butterflies-in-your-tummy sensibility.

But not all is happiness in love, of course, as proved by "Is She the Reason," a tale of vulnerability ("Got me feeling like I wasn't good enough") and the never-ending tug-of-war between the mind and the heart on which Michelle, with her raspy, Macy Gray-like voice, provides the edge. "Girl" is about finding the courage to leave an abusive relationship wherein the three converge for a spine-tingling crescendo, while "If" is a soft kiss good-bye to a man who's taken them for granted. The album culminates with the gospel-tinged "Love," an inspiring reaffirmation about how, as fate would have it, the day they stopped searching for love was the day they found it.

Maybe it's their faith in God that helps them persevere in their tumultuous quest for love. This one, however, comes with fulfillment.

 
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