Vital 2Step, V2’s entry into the two-step almost craze, alternates between singer-dominated pop and intergalactic instrumentals. The latter, with their rhythmic karate moves and tuneful oscillations, are engaging but rarely compelling. One of the best, Second Protocol’s ”Basslick,” yearns to be a techno update of that old ”Chariots of Fire” theme. On the vocal cuts, however, this multi-act anthology lives up to its boastful title. Nadine featuring Capital T’s ”I Feel for You” (not the Prince/ Chaka Khan hit) soars like a diva should. T-Tree’s ”Don’t Give a ****” smoothly integrates two-step beats, rapping, and an especially dismissive singer, while Capital T featuring Rhalia’s ”Ooh Don’t You Want Me” is a near orgasmic flirt. And Richie Dan’s ”Call It Fate” demonstrates how well reggae singing can blend with two-step. (Shaggy, are you listening?)
”Vital 2Step” goes down so easily that it leaves one wondering what precisely is so NEW about two-step. The album is dominated by perfectly passable dance diva pop sung by perfectly passable frontpeople, male and female. (An anonymous bunch, they bring to mind the singers who suddenly appeared on records by loose knit ”bands” like Soul II Soul and then went on the dole.) The vocalists personify a style of music that isn’t particularly exotic and that, for all its U.K. origins, feels more American than British. For that reason alone, two-step may flourish here in the way jungle, drum and bass, and other electronica offspring didn’t. It may win the battle and the war, but you wish the battles were a little more hair raising.