Floetry

Floetic (Dreamworks Records)

Floetry is the sound of Great Britain trying desperately to grab onto the burgeoning U.S. neo-soul movement. The work of young chanteuses Floacist and Songstress, as they call themselves, appropriates the languishing rhythms of Maxwell, the Afrocentricity of Erykah Badu, the quieted vocal delivery of D'Angelo, the smooth rapping of Lauryn Hill and the classicism of style over substance -- Donny Hathaway in sound only -- made popular by Alicia Keys. The results seem destined for commercial success -- those little British accents on the single "Floetic" are adorable, as are the bass and horn touches, and hip-hop tracks like "Opera" win over listeners with energy.

What Floetry seems to neglect on its debut album, however, is that its forebears shot to stardom on songwriting. Even Keys, who really, really wants her listeners to know she's a trained pianist, stumbled upon flashes of brilliance on her 2001 breakthrough, Songs in A' Minor. Too often, Floetry relies on the requisite backbone of the slow jam, on which it effectively jerks off into a mike. Other times, as on "Say Yes" and "Getting Late," the two lock into an intriguing, slinky groove and then get stuck, dragging the slowness to the edge of boredom.

Ultimately, Floetic sets a sublime mood but proves that some things are better left unimported.

 
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