A brash and tightly knit female quartet, not a soft drink, with the worst name for an R&B group since MoKenStef or maybe even Po' Broke & Lonely?, Electrik Red danced behind several high-profile acts (Usher, Ciara) prior to recording their debut album. Pointedly titled How to Be a Lady, Vol. 1, they knocked it out within the span of two weeks with sovereign songwriting/production team Terius "The-Dream" Nash and Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, with Carlos McKinney in place of Stewart on two tracks. While How to Be a Lady could almost pass as a Naomi Allen solo album -- she takes the majority of the leads, occasionally sharing them, with a teasing yet frank huskiness not unlike that of Kelis or the offspring of Millie Jackson -- the presence of her partners is almost always felt, and together they make like an all-conquering crew of maneaters who do precisely what they want without taking themselves too seriously. This is most bluntly exemplified on "W.F.Y." (as in "we f*ck you), a sleek thump-and-glide in which a mate is compared to a stray dog, among other things: "You was like Flash in the sheets/So fast I had to finish when you leave." There's also the riotous "Kill Bill," the best female R&B revenge fantasy since Brooke Valentine's "I Want You Dead." But the bottom line is that the album has some of the best pop-R&B songs of 2009, like the sweet and elastic "So Good" (owing a deep sonic debt to Prince's "If I Was Your Girlfriend"), "Devotion" (a less innocent rewrite of Ciara's "Promise"), "Drink in My Cup" (a sleazy crunk anthem), and "Bed Rest" (a slow jam as light as lemon meringue, the closest they get to a "Baby-Baby-Baby"). On the surface, Electrik Red might be to the-Dream what the Mary Jane Girls were to Rick James and what Vanity 6 were to Prince, yet a little exposure indicates that the group would not hesitate to dump their principal lyricist in a trunk for stepping out of line -- just so they could say they did it -- and somehow become more powerful.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman