Attica Blues Test. Don't Test

Five years ago, Attica Blues were the unrecognised raw-soul solution to Britain's trip-hop renaissance. Their abstract tracks had attitude, consciousness and the emotionality of vocalist Roba El-Essawy. While those elements are still at the crux of Test, they don't shine through with the same ease they had on previous releases. The new material shows this trio struggling to find its sound, trying hard to let go of those blunted, Mo'Wax beats while still working out the bugs in new patterns. El-Essawy goes through her own mood swings as well, trying to catch her breath on some cuts and then unleashing a siren-like intensity on others, all the while in search of a lyric that is cliché-free. The track "Security" comes close, though. Her voice is strong, but gentle, as she delivers a contemporary blues over the unconventional bed of minimal beats. Beat-masters Tony Nwachuku and Charlie Dark draw out inventive qualities with their electro-friendly interruptions on "The Quest" and "Mangled," proving that while this album doesn't show them at their best, the potential is definitely there. (Sony)