After forming unlikely allegiance years ago, the “Foreign Exchange” released a stellar stream of albums and built a devoted fan base that remains connected to their music. While continuing to assemble the tightly knit collective of collaborators associated with their imprint and collecting a Grammy nomination, +FE has continued to place themselves at the forefront of the electronic soulful movement with other genre bending artists that push musical boundaries, and now they are back with their fifth studio album.
It is Love In Flying Colors, which is a light hearted, evenly polished album that speaks to the complexities of the love and relationships; topics that can be quite mundane and emotionally taxing. But this time around, “The Foreign Exchange” presents it in a way that is less weighty adding more understanding and sophistication to one of the world’s greatest mysteries.
With only ten tracks, the album is shorter and does not have as many transitions and open instrumental fields allowing for a more tightly connected work. The guest features list is heavier but we still see Nicolay serving as the primary instrumentalist with Phonte maintaining his space as the pulse within the music.
The album also shows Nic expanding the +FE sound and going deeper into previously explored sound scapes while Te’s voice reveals a more experienced singer. And though the album has some minor pitfalls, it is a still welcomed addition to an already impressive resume.
Like that infamous plus sign that represents their uniformity, the album opens with the +FE signature audio brand that quickly dissipates and glides right into “If I Knew Then” featuring Carmen Rodgers.
A jubilant Synth infused track, Carmen and Phonte create a welcoming and carefree atmosphere as they chant, “Feel so good loves flying high”. “Better”, featuring Eric Roberson and Shana Tucker, speaks to +FE’s hip hop roots and might also take you back to their “Leave it all behind days” i.e. “Take Off The Blues”.
This song is the perfect example of Te’s instinctive ability to toggle between soul crooner and skilful emcee while Shana remains vocally coy but adds a dynamic layer to an already plentiful track.
“Listen To The Rain” which also has Zo! On the boards is the heaviest song on the album lyrically. Up-tempo gems like “The Moment”, “On A Day Like Today” and “Right After Midnight” featuring Sy Smith all maintain an airy, joyous energy to groove to while “When I Feel Love” featuring “Jeanne Jolly” closes out the album on exceptionally high note with poetic lyrics that show the dynamic chemistry between her and Phonte.