THE POINTER SISTERS have never shied from strutting their stuff, but even so, there's a delightful feistiness to their new album, "Contact."

While Ruth, Anita and June Pointer usually treat their material to a lazy simmer (think of "Automatic" or "Slow Hand"), they have no reservations about cutting loose, heating up the music until the song comes to a furious boil. On this album, however, it isn't the performances that account for the album's aggression. Sure, the Pointers get down to the nitty gritty often enough, but it's the songs themselves that seem to be on edge.

Simply looking at the titles ought to convince the casual listener that this album, as the single "Dare Me" puts it, has a chip on its shoulder. From the implied aggression of "Hey You" and "Twist My Arm" to the brutal release of "Pound, Pound, Pound" and "Burn Down the Night," it's made of tougher stuff than usual. Yet Richard Perry's carefully crafted production never lets things turn heavyhanded.

"Burn Down the Night," for example, is built around an aural ambush, in which the song starts out agreeably upbeat, then turns suddenly ferocious as the horn section cranks up the volume. But instead of overpowering the listener, the sudden shift in dynamics is pure exhilaration.

Perry and the Pointers know how to pull maximum impact from every hook they throw. No wonder "Contact" is "power" pop in the most visceral sense; these four never pull their punches.