Following several self-released CD-R albums and 2010's Fox Trot Mannerisms EP on U.K. dubstep label Tectonic, hard-to-classify producer Pursuit Grooves (Vanese Smith) made her full-length debut for the label in 2011 with the fantastic Frantically Hopeful. The adventurous album displayed her knack for constructing unconventional rhythms and effortlessly switching between styles ranging from abstract hip-hop to broken-beat house to neo-soul. Some of her beats sound jarring and oblong at first, but they make more sense on repeated listens, and her synth sounds and samples have a similar rough-meets-smooth quality to them. Her sharp lyrics address technology and privacy issues (particularly on standout "I Sink") while urging society to move forward, and her sensuous crooning is just as impressive as her rhyming skills. While there's a slight bit of a menacing undercurrent to tracks like "Attention" and the wearily confused "What About?," and a strange tension to the way the elements of her tracks fit together, her music is ultimately incredibly optimistic, and the album's title couldn't be more fitting. Unpredictable, experimental, and relentlessly forward-thinking, Frantically Hopeful remains a fascinating, excellent album from an oft-overlooked producer.
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson