En Vogue is back — well, technically the iconic ’90s girl group behind No. 1 hits such as “Hold On,” “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” and “Don’t Let Go (Love)” never left. In fact, members Cindy Herron-Braggs, Terry Ellis and Rhona Bennett are preparing for the second leg of a European tour that launched last year. But this time the trio will be toting along something new: their first studio album in 14 years.
Electric Café formally arrives on March 30, the maiden release of En Vogue Records through Entertainment One Music. Available for pre-order on all major digital providers, the set embraces a wide swath of influences from contemporary R&B/hip-hop, soul and funk to pop, rock and electronic dance. Soaring throughout the album’s 11 tracks: the ladies’ still pristine harmonies.
En Vogue’s last studio release was the 2004 indie album Soul Flower. Remarking on the group’s creative mind-set after a yearslong recording hiatus, original founding member Ellis remarks with a laugh, “It was Lord, have mercy! We finally got the right partnership/distribution deal and the right combination of songs. Then we finally had the opportunity to do this the way we wanted to without others getting in the way of our creative mix.”
Initially planned as an EDM record, Electric Café wound its way through other routes that fellow founding member Herron-Braggs describes as “electric soul” and “punk soul.” In addition to Ne-Yo and Sauce, the group worked with artist/writer/producer Raphael Saadiq, producer Dem Jointz (Rihanna, Janet Jackson) and songwriter Taura Stinson (also up for a best original song Academy Award with Mary J. Blige and Saadiq for “Mighty River” from the film Mudbound).
But the “signature EV sound,” notes Herron-Braggs “remains the through line.” And that’s thanks to the group’s longtime producers/mentors, Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy, whose contributions include the album’s opening songs, “Déjà Vu” and “Blue Skies.”