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Album Review: SWV - 'I Missed Us'

Musically Fresh?

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Album Review: SWV - 'I Missed Us'
Until the U.S. release of I Missed Us on April 16, 2012, pop-R&B trio SWV (aka Sisters With Voices) hadn't put out an album since 1997's Release Some Tension. And although it's nice to have them back, many of the songs on the album sound like they've been sitting on the shelf since the Release Some Tension era, just waiting to be released. Although I Missed Us is a nicely sung, solidly-produced album, it sounds completely out of place in -- and out of touch with -- the contemporary music world. Many of the songs sound like they were recorded in 2002 rather than 2012. Although there's nothing wrong with sticking to a certain style in general, the group's failure to evolve with the times and give their fans something musically fresh after a decade and a half away is somewhat disappointing.

Assembly Line

The best example of the old-is-new sound that SWV's I Missed Us employs is the first single, "Co-Sign," which sounds like it was unearthed from a late '90s or early 2000s time capsule. The outdated production techniques, combined with the dated vocal arrangement give the song a very retro, almost stale, sound. The same goes for about half the album's other songs, including "All About You," "Show Off" and "Do Ya," which features rapper Brianna Perry. There's so many dated songs here, in fact, that it makes you wonder how many -- if any -- of the songs were recently recorded, or if the group has just been sitting on them since their last studio album in the late '90s.
The album's other big drawback is a lack of lyrical and emotional depth. Each song here sounds like it was clearly made as a part of a songwriting and production formula instead of coming together naturally. It's almost like a group of people working on an assembly line added pieces to each track per the instructions in a pop-R&B songcrafting manual. There's a lack of originality and genuine emotion on the album's first half that's highly disappointing. Fortunately, things get somewhat better beginning with the album's seventh song, which happens to be the title track. But even still, "I Missed Us" the song and I Missed Us the album are both only saved by the occasionally excellent vocals of SWV's three vocalists, Coko, Lelee and Taj. Although they don't always make the most of the material they're given to work with, the ladies at least show they still have a passion for music and performing.
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