Electric Wire Hustle

Love Can Prevail

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    9
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Down to a duo following the departure of drummer Myele Manzanza, Electric Wire Hustle bounce back with another beguiling set of rhythm & blues that is, at once, progressive and rooted in the past. It ain't no picnic. In the album's opening song, Mara TK's voice slightly quavers, "I think I'm not the only one who feels like they're treading water" over a palpitating beat, just before the entry of a siren-like sound. Its urgency is doubled by lightly clattering percussion. One can sense before the song fades out that the prospect of hearing a dancefloor jam -- or even sweltering, Voodoo-style funk like the debut's "Gimme That Kinda" -- is nonexistent. At no point does the album's tone truly lift, unless one counts the point in "Blackwater" when Mara repeats the album's title several times, like he's trying to ward off imminent apocalypse. Restraint and fine details continue to be a couple of the group's many strong points. Taay Ninh's sensitive and funky synthesizer lines supply much of the album's bottom end, albeit without dominating a single moment. On "Loveless," he sounds like he's trying to work out René & Angela's "I'll Be Good" without stealing thunder from Mara's typically churning and ringing guitar lines. Along with the sound of Mara's voice, which is akin to that of a sage with a wounded but concerned soul, Ninh provides some much-needed warmth. The album concludes as grimly as it begins. "Numbers and Steel" is wrapped in swirling horror-theme menace as Mara declares "Get away, I've got to get away" like a man trapped on a planet whose inhabitants are stuck in destructive cycles. Still-relevant quotes from 2Pac, seamlessly incorporated into the song, enhance the distressing tones.

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