I tried to give awE naturalE  — THEESatisfaction’s debut album — a fair chance, I really did. But in nearly every song, I couldn’t help but feel that there was something slightly off. I cringed through some of the out-of-step percussion rhythms and vocals, and by the end I just felt like I was trying too desperately to like it.

I clutched at the fact that the lead vocalist, Catherine Harris-White, has a stunningly haunting voice with obvious influences from jazz idols like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. I paid close attention to the raw lyrics and the smooth, gentle patterns of Stasia Irons’ rapping. Still, these undoubtedly talented artists somehow left me feeling pretty displeased at the end of this album. Also, the beginning of awE naturalE felt more jarring to me than the rest, but perhaps I was just more accustomed to the duo’s style by the end.

The Seattle-based duo is hailed as a fresh, new addition to the hip-hop scene. From the little I could gather, they are relatively well-liked. Perhaps I’m just not hipster enough to enjoy their musical boundary challenging. Or maybe I’m just missing the point. Maybe the construction of these songs is meant to make listeners really pay attention — after all, easy-listening music is often just background music. These artists are very much in-your-face with their admittedly unique spin on hip-hop. Not to mention that their inspiring lyrics challenge the typical preconceptions of the genre through promoting the empowering ideals associated with ’90s hip-hop.

Still, I could recommend a couple of songs from this album. “QueenS,” although it contains repetitive vocal loops, provides evocative lyrics clearly imploring listeners to be true to themselves. Another song, “Earthseed,” starts with slightly discordant piano and an eerily far-away voice. It’s definitely captivating, with minor chord progressions that will cause shivers. “Needs” is similarly hypnotizing, and includes almost tribal-sounding drumbeats. “Deeper” is rhythmic and combines meaningful rapping and pleasant vocals in a fashion that seems to deviate from the rest of the album. Some moreforgetable tracks are mostly instrumental, like “Juiced,” which I honestly felt quite neutral about, or “Crash,” which sounded like a collection of false starts to me.

While thee is some evident creative potential in this hip-hop duo, I found this album difficult to listen to, with tunes almost chaotically unaligned and repetitive. Maybe give this unique album a listen, if not just to test your boundaries. Perhaps you’ll find a better appreciation for the discord than I did by finding some hidden pattern within the intricate weavings of vocal and instrumental melodies.

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