THE VELVET UNDERGROUND only managed to make four albums, but their sound is nigh inexhaustible.

On a handful of occasional, little-heard discs released since 1979, a Swedish quintet called the Leather Nun has been working the Velvets' turf with chilly, monochromatic songs like "Desolation Avenue." Now the Nun is finally flying over America -- making its stateside vinyl debut with a compilation album, "Force of Habit," and opening for Echo and the Bunnymen, now on a second American tour to promote their eponymous fifth album released last summer.

On songs like "For the Love of Your Eyes," singer/songwriter Jonas Almqvist echoes Velvets frontman Lou Reed so closely as to approach paraphrase, but the Nun does have some other habits (all black, of course). The band offers a gloomy Iggy Pop-like ballad, "I Can Smell Your Thoughts," and a growling rendition of "Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)," a hit for pop's best-known Swedes, Abba. Almqvist and company are unlikely to follow Abba into the American hit parade, but those who like the feel of Velvet will probably be comfortable with this Leather.


"Force of Habit" (IRS IRS-42053). Appearing Saturday with Echo and the Bunnymen at Constitution Hall.