'DK3' is the Danity Kane that could've been. Despite the album serving as a parting gift to fans, it's proof that, sonically, their ability to create solid material hasn't been completely lost amid the turmoil.

The former quintet was known as one of the few ephemeral bands left behind by Bad Boy. The average fan's knowledge of the group's situation now rests somewhere between, "Didn't two of them get in a fight?," to "They still exist?"

The good news is how 'DK3' carries some slight awareness that times have changed -- girl groups are out (even they've disbanded) and solo singers like Jhene Aiko are in. This final album isn't a reaffirmation, but rather a thank you note to Danity Kane fans. Fortunately, the project is strong enough to argue that that's not a euphemism for, "We can't stand each other, but here's something."

Now a more efficient trio -- Dawn Richard, Aurbey O'Day and Shannon Bex -- Danity Kane's main success on the finale is how they lean towards a creative fluency and pop efficacy. That sound and direction would likely grow stronger had the members stayed together for future projects. There are moments -- mid-album, to be precise -- where the group's harmonious presence is particularly effective.

In better days, 'Tell Me' could've been a DJ playlist essential -- the soundtrack of a post-open bar shimmy to the neon-lit hot pink dance floor. 'Tell Me' bends towards a drowsy submergence as Danity Kane shuttle runs from doe-eyed pondering to demands -- a convincing run through the emotional spectrum. This leads to a well-done guitar segue to 'Two Sides,' a song sonically genteel enough to fit in with early-aughts Radio Disney teen pop. It's also skillfully sung; this is an all ages affair.

Listen to Danity Kane's 'Tell Me'

However, it's a huge issue these cluster of highlights come midway through the album, especially when the thesis for listening to 'DK3' in the first place is so broken. All of the first four tracks land in cliched, retrograde mediocrity. 'Rhythm of Love,' the over-serious opening ballad, is the biggest offender. There's a 'Family Guy' joke that jabs at these kinds of vapid hooks. What follows next is the overly saccharine, Clipse-sampled 'Lemonade' (complete with an ill-fitting Tyga verse) and 'All In a Days Work. "I'm making that s--- look easy," goes the hook, as if the members of Danity Kane are trying to convince themselves. 'Rage' would've been No. 11 on the 'TRL' countdown.

What makes any the album's failures from being particularly ignominious or the successes from resonating is how low stakes it all is under this "goodbye album" context. Closer 'Bye Baby,' a kiss-off to a former lover, doubles as a goodbye to fans. The mix of the trio's attitude and likeability makes it a decent number by itself, but the justifications -- "There's more ... out there to love than just you" -- don't quite feel earned. It turns out the goodbye is more bitter than sweet; those mid-album tracks on 'DK3' are a glimpse of a renewed Danity Kane -- a Danity Kane that wasn't torn apart by needless drama.

Listen to Danity Kane's 'Lemonade'

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