Do you think for yourself? Are you strong and opinionated? Do you challenge my mind? These are all questions posed by the eclectic threesome Electric Wire Hustle on its self-titled album’s opening track “Water”. It’s obvious that this is not the typical r&b album. We, the listeners, are not destined to be subjected to over-produced, mindless sexcapades into “music.” No, Electric Wire Hustle has something special and organic – something that has yet to be perverted by the demands of big label suits.
Sounding like some long-forgotten cousin of the Soulquarian family, Electric Wire Hustle is full of more funky soul goodness than nearly all of its contemporaries. This grows evident as the back-to-back tracks “Gimme That Kinda” and “Perception” actually sound like outtakes from Voodoo, right down to the curt trumpets and layered vocal harmonies complete with cooing background falsetto.
The body of the album doesn’t let up either. Appearances from Steve Spacek, Stacy Epps, Georgia Anne Muldrow and Declaime all prove that Electric Wire Hustle has entered rarefied air, but rest assured, this is not one of those albums that relies on guests. Lead singer Mara TK has an unnatural ability to outfit each track with vocals that bubble with passion. Even among the critical darlings mentioned above, TK more than holds his own, many times rendering the guest performances nearly forgettable (and that’s not a knock on the other singers by any means).
The always-funky Declaime is actually well atop his game on “Jupiter”, however his track does adopt a slightly harder stance – a definitive shift from the easy flow of the rest of the album. It is in no way a bad track, it is simply out of place here. However, that’s a small complaint on an album that boasts standout tracks such as “Again” and the lead single “They Don’t Want”.
Though it is not entirely without its flaws, Electric Wire Hustle is a creation of purity and beauty. Not only is the musical precision impressive, but the content is smart and thought-provoking. And that combination of intellectual creativity and smooth sonics is enough to melt headphones. Apparently these New Zealand boys are onto something.