With Our Naked Ears We Hear A Lush Album

The follow-up to 1996's critically acclaimed Fever In Fever Out.

If there's any justice, Luscious Jackson will soon be making the leap from critical darlings to household names. Electric Honey finds the group in excellent form.

Guitarist Gabby Glaser trades vocals with Jill Cunniff, who wrote most of the songs here, while fellow original member Kate Schellenback supplies drums and percussion. The band wears its influences on its collective sleeve, but with a love for genres ranging from punk to new wave to rap to funk, the resultant amalgam manages to sound both fresh and hip at the same time. It's clear that the newly married Cunniff is happy these days; there's an upbeat quality to the record that all but screams the joys of settling down for the long haul.

The wildly infectious "Nervous Breakthrough" (RealAudio excerpt) opens the album, with dance-floor rhythms meeting a groovy hip-hop sensibility. While the technically superb tune "Ladyfingers" is being pushed as the album's first single -- perhaps partly because Emmylou Harris sings on the track -- other songs stand out as stronger efforts. "Summer Daze" (RealAudio excerpt) starts off with a deceptively noodling quality until it morphs into a soulful, downright horny paean to summer and love.

Deborah Harry makes an appearance on the glam-flavored "Fantastic Fabulous" (RealAudio excerpt). "Sexy Hypnotist" spins a distinctive riff off the Breeders' "Cannonball" into a carny-flavored rock 'n' roll showstopper. It's easy to picture the song "Friends" (featuring backing vocals by Kym Hampton of the New York Liberty) as a concert sing-along, with such lines as "You're always there for me and I'm always there for you" bopping along with a trip-hop feel. From start to finish, Electric Honey manages to be both accessible and startling, without sacrificing saucy girl-flavored insouciance.