Albums of the Year 2013. Number 6.
The Electric Lady by Janelle Monae
Remember how with the last few reviews I’ve noted there’s a trend for albums which might not quite be as good as previous works by the same artist, but have a handful of tracks that are better? Well, Janelle Monae breaks this trend by doing precisely the opposite.
Because while The ArchAndroid might have a handful of better tracks than Electric Lady (Cold War, Tightrope, Faster), overall I think that Electric Lady holds together better as an album.
Monae is great at producing proper albums though, and this is one of my favourite things about her. Rather than just piecing together a number of disconnected tracks interspersed with a handful of hastily-produced filler, her albums feel planned, and themed. In this case, everything is tied together with a faux radio call-in show. Alongside this, and best of all, the music on them is great, punchy R&B.
And although there are a handful of standout tracks on the last album, and they may be better than tracks here, there are still some great standout tracks on this album too. Her anthem to modern feminism, Q.U.E.E.N., featuring Erykah Badu and the other single, Dance Apocalyptic are worth the price of the album on their own. Add to this the soulful Primetime, Ghetto Woman and Victory and there’s enough to keep her in singles for months to come.
Electric Lady is an interesting pop album set above almost everything else released in the pop world and because of that, beneath the sheen, there’s a lot of substance, making for an album that’s worth coming back to repeatedly.