Critics are loath to admit it, but every once in a while we come across an album of such thuddingly obvious quality that writing a straight-up review seems boring. When a release is heralded by so many outlets—in print, on television, through the blogosphere—sometimes all that’s left to say is, yes, the subject under consideration really is fantastic: ho-hum, end of story. This is what has happened with Janelle Monáe, a singer so exciting that writers are flipping deep into their adulation thesauruses looking for new ways to express the opinion. (Not that this will stop me from attempting the same.)
In sum, the Kansas-born, Atlanta-based R&B musician is a singing, dancing, and art-making machine, full stop. That noun—machine—is apt, because her new record presents Monáe as an android from the future, traveling back in time to prepare us for the vast technological changes ahead. If this all seems loopy or overwrought for the dance floor, you needn’t worry. Unlike most concept albums running more than an hour in length, The ArchAndroid never forgets how to have a good time: rocking in parts like Dirty Mind–era Prince, unfolding in a suite form that recalls Abbey Road’s side two, and bumping throughout with the best innovations of contemporary hip-hop. Monáe’s voice—as fine a device as any in sci-fi when it comes to arguing for otherworldly intelligence—can make the hyperspace leap from its crooning, chanteuse register to the gritty exhalations required by funk. There’s a reason that Bad Boy label president Sean “Diddy” Combs—not known for public acts of humility—emerged from offstage to bow at Monáe’s feet after her recent debut on Letterman. Since she has—for the moment—no haters, it’s as good a time as any for Monáe to be ambitious.
Read it all here at Newsweek.com.
I’ve been wearing out my cd, especially at work. I love listening to The ArchAndroid while I’m working out in the gym on my mp3 player. I was on the elliptical machine today when Faster and Dance or Die came on my mp3 player and I was rolling 🙂
Check out Dance or Die.