When it plays live, the Brooklyn-based trio pumps out sultry and funky jams, blending from cut to cut without pause, like marionettes under the skilled control of an invisible DJ. But they're also more than just a house-music band, and their forthcoming debut album, Introducing, proves it.
Remixes of their earliest singles, "I Might Do Something Wrong" and "How's Your Life," combine John-Christian Urich's soulful singing with driving minimal kick beats and melancholy keys and bass. On cuts like "Don't Hold Me Down" and "Love Everlasting," the group leaves the digital production behind, with Urich settling in behind the drum kit, Ethan White stretching out on the keyboards, and Jason Kriveloff strapping on his bass. The all-live approach keeps the house tempo going while ratcheting the funk up a notch or two. Urich's earnest falsetto calls to mind Jamiroquai's Jason Kay, and the groups' R&B tendencies lend a maturity reminiscent of Bill Withers. For the naysayers and critics who have always denounced the lack of musicianship in DJ culture, that maturity is the perfect comeback: Tortured Soul's music possesses the simplicity of a house groove and the sophistication of R&B's masters. How could anyone resist?