With the spare, stripped-down guitars of Melissa Farris (Tuscadero) and bassist Yalan Papillon's goth-tinged, Chrissie Hynde vocals, Dame Fate comes off like a cross between the Pretenders, Mazzy Star, and Bauhaus. The Washington, D.C., all-female trio's debut, Time and Tide Wait for No Man, is a largely melancholy affair -- with songs like "Crisp Winter" that would do Peter Murphy proud. But there are uplifting pop moments as well, like the keyboard break on "River Letters" or the meandering and groovy "Forget Him," which sounds more like something from the Deal sisters than, say, Siouxsie & the Banshees. One of Dame Fate's strengths is that the group avoids getting pinned down by any single genre, while drawing on quite a few. Still, on Time and Tide Wait for No Man, the band sounds as if it doesn't quite reach its potential -- never as energetic as "Bela Lugosi's Dead" or as dreamy and narcoleptic as Hope Sandoval, Dame Fate is more likely to phase listeners out. It's a welcome change of pace when, on track five, "Stealing Hearts," Dame Fate finally rocks out. But second albums are often a better test of a band, and Time and Tide shows strong, unique musicians in the dawn of their careers.