In 20 years, Mint Condition has released seven albums, hence the title of the R&B band’s new CD. Each effort built on its predecessor, revealing flashes of brilliance. But too many times, shapeless material hampered the band’s albums.
On “7...,” the Minneapolis quintet comes close to a masterstroke. Everything that made Mint Condition great in the first place (the razor-edged rhythms, richly melodic love songs and lead singer Stokely Williams’ rangy, passion-soaked vocals) is better realized. The songs, slick and smartly streamlined, showcase a band at the peak of its powers.
The vibrancy of the music, which finely balances live and processed instrumentation, underscores the broken-hearted lyrics. “Can’t Get Away,” “Mind Slicker” and “Walk On” bristle with angst. But the grooves and melodies are so honey-smooth, the kiss-offs become pleasantries. “Not My Daddy,” a duet with underrated R&B singer/songwriter Kelly Price, is the only track on the album not produced by the band.
From beginning to end, “7...” is an assured, mature statement from a band in full bloom.