LIKE THE PRETENDERS' Chrissie Hynde, Robin Lane debuted in 1980 with striking songs that featured a tough, challenging female persona backed by a hard- rocking band. But while Hynde got the attention she deserved, Lane never did and was dropped from Warner Brothers after two albums. After a three-year drought, Lane reemerged last year with the four best songs of her career on an EP for a local Boston label.

Lane has traded in her early folk-rock influences for electric keyboards and an even tougher sound. Her voice has a new clarity and fullness as she sings about the very real obstacles between men and women and her just-as-real determination to overcome them.

This combination of realism and optimism is especially evident on the hard-charging "True Confessions"; as Tim Jackson churns up a rumbling drum beat and Wally Baier spreads a synth backround, Lane longs for a day when misunderstandings with her lover will end. On "Hard Cover," Lane warns her lover that she's no temporary paperback but a hardcover book. On "Shot in the Dark," a girl-group theme turned aggressive, she asks, "How can I make him notice me?" She could be talking to the tin-eared music industry. ROBIN LANE -- "Heart Connection" (Recon RE77); appearing at the 9:30 Club this Saturday at 9.