Cheri Coke XCoke

Trading in both her birth name and a confessedly dime-a-dozen contemporary R&B style for a catchy new moniker and far more progressive sound, former Bad Boy singer-songwriter Cheri Dennis (now Cheri Coke) may have finally found her groove. Matching her chippy personality and feisty vocals to the maddeningly rhythmic future soul creations of Brooklyn, NY-based producer MeLo-X, Coke and her outer-worldly beatsmith bounce around from airy, slow-building moods to brash, body-gripping wall bangers with inspired ambition and admirable cool. Early dance floor killers "Free" and the skittering "The Garden of Eden" work together as perfect twin firestarters, the second proving the record's clear highlight, with its mesmerizing breaks and uncanny sonic layering providing the perfect backdrop to Cheri's enticing musings. The singer continues her clever lyrical turns on equally impressive standout "The Interlude," over a chilled but no less hypnotic musical masterwork from the Romantic Movement affiliate, who even offers a taste of his mic skills on the choppy "Ryder." Despite one lone misstep coming via a somewhat unnecessary cover of Portishead's well-worn "Sour Times," the duo manage a much expected intriguing first taster of what will hopefully be a lasting creative partnership. (Independent)