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Wikked Lil' Grrrls

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Album Review

Esthero ended her post-Breath From Another hiatus in 2004 with the "O.G. Bitch" single and an EP called We R in Need of a Musical Revolution that skewered radio and MTV for overexposure and homogeny, not to mention misogyny and the promotion of R. Kelly. She doesn't slow down on Wikked Lil' Grrrls, her first full-length in seven years. But Esthero also spends a little too much time in a drifty place between modernized trip-hop, mild R&B, and frilly, dizzily in love lyrics. The percussive, Björk-like "Musical Revolution" kicks things off, followed by an interlude from spoken word poet Jemeni. "Blanket Me in You (Never Is So Soon)" is a little too gauzy, as is "Thank Heaven 4 You," but anyone who heard the EP will recognize the irresistibly brassy chamber pop of "Everyday Is a Holiday (With You)" (a collaboration with Sean Lennon), and "Wikked Lil' Grrrls" itself lives up to its disclaimer — "Warning: may cause ass to shake!" — it's a soul sister to Gwen Stefani's L.A.M.B.. There are personal messages sprinkled throughout the record, in answering machine recordings and parenthetical shout-outs. And Esthero's rich, honeyed vocals give weight to her love proclamations and assertions of self-confidence. So you know Wikked is a personal statement, if not a labor of love considering how long it took to come out. But it still has some trouble finding its legs. "My Torture" is a sketch of faraway muted trumpet and skittering electronic percussion, modern and moody and glimmering like rain drops in the big city. And yet that very mood seems like a representation of something; it doesn't feel real. "Fastlane" too is lost in chattering drum'n'bass-lite spoken word and an eager but too busy Jelleestone rap. Fortunately "Bad Boy Clyde" is better with its touches of brass, and "If tha Mood" condenses the album's intimacies and "sex speak" into one track that's both sultry and audacious. Wikked Lil' Grrrls occasionally gets lost between songwriting, thematics, and stylistic flow. Nevertheless it's good to have Esthero back. She's furiously honest about what she wants, likes, hates, and loves, and that's something that can be quite a rarity in the 21st century.

Customer Reviews

Great surprise

I was pleasantly surprised when I listened to this album's tracks here on iTunes. The title track got to me immediately, because of the old feel, reminiscent of Squirrel Nut Zippers, but with a jazzy/modern groove. I couldn't agree more with her opening statement in "We R In Need of a Musical Revolution". Nothing sounds remotely new nowadays and Esthero's album is a fresh, impressive effort. A few of the slow songs here and there could have been dropped in order to make this a more cohesive album. However, I found myself listening to all the tracks several times... something I hardly do with other albums I download. Some of the best tracks are the two previously mentioned as well as: "If that Mood", "Blanket Me In You (Never is so soon)", "Junglebook" with Andre from Outkast as well as "Gone" with Cee-Lo Green.

We R in Need of a MusicalReVoLuTion

And that is what you will get with the debut major label album by Esthero. She definitely isn't like Brittney or Ashani, two artist who she takes potshots in the opening track off of Wikked Lil' Grrrls. MTV and the radio, and their repetitiveness, are also a major target in the first track We R in Need of a MusicalReVoLuTion. But after the brass opening track, Esthero mellows out for most of the rest of the album. Esthero's strong suit is that she can switch and mix up genres better than any one out there today. Most of her music has an old-time feel with the infusion of jazz and soul yet some songs do have modern hip-hop and dance grooves. This is most evident in the title track of the album that has a ragtime feel to it. And the music is provided mostly by musicians, not a drum loop played over and over again. And many different instruments are utilized throughout the album. The bouncy is a Holiday (With You) sound like a Chicago song with the horns section. Well that's if Chicago had a female lead singer. There a few high profile guest spots on the album with Sean Lennon Everyday is a Holiday (With You) and Andre 3000 on Junglebook and Cee-Lo Green helps out on Gone. Cee-Lo does stick out like a sore thumb on an otherwise great track, and it would had been better if he had been left off the song.

Dukes Up

This would Esthero's first album since Breath From Another (which, by the way, should be added to iTunes) which was released seven years ago. If you're into Sade, Bjork, Morcheeba, etc. you should mos def check this out. It mixes jazz, hip-hop, r&b, and trip-hop very nicely. Really good chill out album. And though it is not, in my opinion, as good as BFA you should check this out. If you just want a taste first, here are some reccomended tracks: Beautiful Lie, Fastlane, If Tha Mood, Everyday Is a Holiday, and We R In Need of a Musical Revolution.


Born: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

Vocalist Esthero was born Jen-Bea Englishman on December 23, 1978, in Ontario, Canada. She moved to Toronto in 1996, and quickly became a fixture at the city's open mikes. There she met Doc (real name: Martin McKinney), an engineer and producer, and the two began working on a demo featuring his programming and her vocals. Sony eventually took interest, and suddenly Esthero went from a fledgling idea to a duo with Esthero's name as their own and a record, Breath from Another, issued in spring 1998...
Full Bio
Wikked Lil' Grrrls, Esthero
View in iTunes
  • $13.99
  • Genres: Pop, Music, Dance, Rock, Adult Alternative
  • Released: Jun 28, 2005
  • Parental Advisory

Customer Ratings