Thursday, June 03, 2010

Review: Janelle Monae, The ArchAndroid

Janelle Monae
The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III)

I generally like to call myself a music enthusiast of sorts; someone up-to-date on a wide variety of artists, genres and random happenings in the world of music. Well, my mind has been blown away; I’ve been put into check by a single album and I’ve been forced to realize that I actually know very little. Yes, I originally learned of Janelle Monae about a year ago but I didn’t take any time to listen to her work before now. Big Mistake. Her sophomore album, The ArchAndroid, was released last week under Wondaland Arts Society and Bad Boy Records. It’s been quite a while now since I’ve listened to an album and loved every bit of it. Yeah, there have been random songs or artists that have caught my attention over the years but Janelle Monae’s originality definitely sets her apart from the average artist. I’m trying to think of the last time I’ve been completely at a lost for words describing what I think of an album in its entirety. The only phrase that might even come close to portraying what I think of The ArchAndroid is that it’s “freaking amazing” but even that doesn’t fully describe how much I love this album. The ArchAndroid serves as a continuation to her mixtape, Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase) and tells the story of Monae’s alter ego, Cindi Mayweather. In The ArchAndroid Cindi Mayweather dominates android society and her experience and lessons learned as this leading lady are described throughout each track on the album. This celestial story is very evident in the trippy instrumentals Janelle Monae sings over. While listening to the album I imagine myself in a flying saucer weaving through paper stars in a low-budget animated clip (somewhat like this). I’m trying to decide which song I think is best but I can’t, so I’m just going to tell you my favorite set of songs. These songs (tracks 2-4) made me immediately want to fall in love with a woman I’ve never even met. These three tracks (“Dance or Die (featuring Saul Williams),” “Faster,” and “Locked Inside” respectively) are all so different and so great individually but work together in a way that happens so rarely with most albums. The ArchAndroid can’t simply be described as a pop album, a funk album, a soul album or anything else so limiting because it’s all of those and so much more. From the funky beats, awesome production quality, Janelle Monae’s beautiful voice and catchy lyrics (see I’m shaking like a schizo taken from the song “Faster”), The ArchAndroid is quickly topping my list of favorite albums from 2010 and we’re barely six months into the year yet. As everyone slowly begins to forget their “Best of the decade” lists so carefully put together this past winter, I think Janelle Monae is exactly what we need to start off this new decade and revive the creativity and originality of the music industry.

-- Dominique Barron

1 comment:

igs said...

just listened to this. blew my socks off, and I hate female rappers