Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White met while attending the University of Washington, and quickly realized that they shared a deep passion for music. But, rather than just share records and talk about their favorite bands, they decided to actually become one. They now make music under the moniker THEESatisfaction. They’re still based out of Seattle, Washington, and their third record awE naturalE is their debut release on Sub Pop Records.
THEESatisfaction are true funk soul sisters. They blend together urban beats, electronic rhythmic loops and jazz, which results in a sound full of vintage vibrancy like that of some old warped record. Sound wise, they’re are a mix between A Tribe Called Quest, Erykah Badu, and Lauryn Hill, but still their records showcase a band with a fairly distinctive style above all. Lyrically, though, THEESatisfaction varies quite a bit, and often fail to really connect. Though their lyrics are sometimes bold, they are also repetitive, informal and slightly detached. Since rap and R&B music is typically seen as the fruition of poetry via music, this breakdown counteracts some of the group’s strength.
Irons and White have a tangible chemistry, with their voices audibly ricocheting off each other, on top of choppy beats. They sing with confidence and rap in stream of consciousness lucidity. The stronger songs on the album are the ones more focused on one specific rhythm such as “QueenS,” “Deeper” and “Bitch;” however, upon listening to some of their songs, they can also inflict an uneasiness. “Earthseed” and “Existinct” contain chord progressions and notes that, when paired together, seem rather unsettling. The album offers promise as it turns another direction with “Sweat,” a lusty, funky, latin jazz rap, but the highlights are yet to come.
“God” and “Enchantruss” are some of the most intriguing songs on the album. On these two songs, THEESatisfaction are joined by their friend Ishmael Butler from Shabazz Palaces. He brings a new perspective to the album with his fierce raps, adding a passion that was missing on the album. He adds to awE naturalE a bit of anger and a little more motive, to make these songs some of the most powerful on the entire record.
Though there is rhythm to spare on this album, due to its off-kilter arrangements it is not very danceable. The surfeit of eerier songs also make it a difficult album to relax to. So, despite the more solid songs, awE naturalE is thrown into limbo. It is a trance-rap record full of cadence and soul, but one that might seem unappealing to the many who would otherwise embrace this type of avant-garde experimentation.