En Vogue return with Electric Cafe, their first in 14 years and the debut to be released from under their own En Vogue Records label imprint. Original members Terry Ellis and Cindy Herron are joined by Rhona Bennett, who has been with the group since 2005.
Blue Skies opens the album with a glowingly modern feel that still recalls that classic En Vogue style. The harmonies are on point throughout, blending the trio’s voices together in a way that is powerfully soft. Sadly though the modern feel is somewhat lost on Deja Vu, which feels like a time warp back to 1993, and not really in a good way. It’s lounge music layered under generic vocals that do little to enunciate the legacy behind them.
The titular track has a little more of an up to date flair, with a funky bass line that breathes an experimental new life into the once classic group. There are touches of Prince all over this tune, with the subtle vocal flourishes really accentuating his potential influence. Love The Way once again drops the ball though, giving me war flashbacks to the early 2000s when low rise jeans were considered the height of fashion *shudders*. It does become more tolerable by the time the chorus kicks in, but only in a timid nod to nostalgia kind of way.
The album closes with the funk driven Have A Seat, that transforms En Vogue into a 50s style girl group – in a good way. This blast to the past is full of a subtle kind of sass, thanks mostly to the almost call and response backing vocals. The alternating between modern and vintage encapsulates En Vogue’s current position very well, and bridges the gap between their successful past and bright future.
On more than one occasion, Electric Cafe loses a sense of cohesiveness needed for a comeback album, but it’s nice to see a heritage band still committed to making music all these years later. There are good tracks in amongst the filler, but this could potentially just be one for the existing fans wanting a trip down memory lane.