FOR the longest time, ''retro'' was a dirty word in pop music. Anything that wore its influences on its sleeve was taboo - considered passe by the tomorrow-belongs-to-me crowd and trend-driven critics. Of course, this was all just smoke and mirrors. Adding little tinkly sounds to their ditties in the pretence that their music was somehow more ''new'' than everything else, soulless poseurs took the too-cool-to-care road and tried to convince a gullible public that this was the new age. Well, what goes around comes around, and with Are You Gonna Go My Way, Lenny Kravitz has proved that sticking to your guns can have its rewards. In his typical John Lennon-cum-Jimi Hendrix fashion, Kravitz embraces the '60s and the '70s full-bore, creating an album that never hides behind its technology and is only concerned with getting to the heart of matters. On Are You Gonna Go My Way, Kravitz interlaces cutting guitars over a straight-up, unprocessed rhythm section and sings I won't leave until I'm done/So that's why you've got to try/ You got to breathe and have some fun. With similarly unapologetic aplomb, Believe - the album's most melodically beautiful song - evokes the harmonic appeal of The Beatles and Badfinger. But when Kravitz does pull out the toys, it is always subtly done. The vocal phasing on Believe, for instance, adds mood to the piece and is not a mere affectation. As well, the mellotron on Just Be a Woman and the touches of echoing wah-wah guitar on Sister are colour and not construction. Eleutheria, the album's last and most surprising track, is Bob Marley incarnate. But although it is a good tune, it inevitably falls short of Marley's transcendent groove.