Spooks S.I.O.S.O.S. Volume 1

The promise shown by this four MC, one vocalist group on their intriguing single, "Things I've Seen," quickly evaporates upon listening to their full-length. Spook's rhymers just aren't very good, forever trying to catch up to the pedestrian beats with their sloppy deliveries and failing to establish their own identities, which is a shame given the interesting topics they raise. But even these are overshadowed by the group's constant irritating reminders of how different they are. The album skits, which feature sleazy record exec types courting group members individually for solo careers, are unintentionally ironic, since it is female vocalist Ming-Xia, with her alluring and disarming vocals, who should break free from the group. The case is made stronger by the mellow dub sensibility of "Sweet Revenge," the choice moment here, which might as well be a solo track for the impressive vocalist. (Artemis)