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The ArchAndroid (Deluxe)

Janelle Monáe

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Album Review

Any misgivings about Janelle Monáe's Bad Boy deal are nullified by the briefest contact with this, an extravagant 70-minute album involving more imagination, conceptual detail, and stylistic turnabouts than most gatefold prog rock epics. Credit Bad Boy's Diddy for allowing Monáe to fully explore the singularity on display through Metropolis, Suite I: The Chase, and work with her Wondaland crew on a bigger budget. The ArchAndroid not only picks up where The Chase let off, but contains both the second and third Metropolis suites in one shot with no discernible “let’s make some hits now” intervention. The packaging alone — the elaborate crown, the inspiration listed beside each song, etc. — provides much to process. Liner notes from the vice-chancellor of the arts asylum at the Palace of the Dogs, Monáe’s residence, outline the (possible) situation fleshed out in the songs. In short, Monáe was genoraped in the 28th century, sent back to the 21st century, and had her organic compounds cloned and re-purposed for the existence of ArchAndroid Cindi Mayweather, whose directive is to liberate Metropolis from a secret society of oppressors. Understanding all this stuff enhances the enjoyment of the album, but it is not required. A few tracks merely push the album along, and a gaudy Of Montreal collaboration is disruptive, but there are numerous highlights that are vastly dissimilar from one another. “Tightrope,” the biggest standout, is funky soul, all locomotive percussion and lyrical prancing to match: “I tip on alligators, and little rattlesnakers/But I’m another flavor, something like a Terminator.” Just beneath that is the burbling synth pop of “Wondaland,” as playful and rhythmically juicy as Tom Tom Club (“So inspired, you touch my wires”); the haunted space-folk of “57821” (titled after Monáe’s patient number); and the conjoined “Faster” and “Locked Inside,” packing bristling energy with a new-wave bounce that morphs into a churning type of desperation worthy of Michael Jackson. Monáe might not have much appeal beyond musical theater geeks, sci-fi nerds, and those who like their genres crossed-up, but no one can deny that very few are on her creative level. She can sing, sang, and scream like hell, too.

Customer Reviews

Move aside Lady Gaga, it

Being a DJ who specialises in retro and nu funk/jazz/soul/hip-hop, etc. I often get asked the boring, predictable question: 'Have you got any Beyonce?' or, more annoyingly to me, 'Lady Gaga?'. I totally respect Lady Gaga. She has carved out a niche in pop music and her image is certainly unique, which all blend to make her an interesting and original pop artist. Still, I find her music tiresome and predictable. But, wait, hang on a second, a black soul artist from the States who has previously worked with Outkast with an album released for the summer 2010? Original, unique and exciting? You bet ya. Monae's album is beyond a concept album. She picks up the 70's disco atmosphere of Michael Jackson's seminal Off The Wall album, blends in a bit of electric guitar circa ELO and early Prince, some tasty orchestral strings, a dash of of Outkast no doubt and lashings of deep fried southern funk and you have a truly brilliant album. Now I look forward to the request, 'have you got any Janelle Monae?'...

Stunning, Stunning, Stunning

This is one of the best albums I have heard in years. There is so much creativity and talent in this album, it really could shift the game, if enough people have an open enough mind and get to hear it. Just like Lady Gaga is unique and in her own category, in this epic album, Janelle Monae has carved out an entirely new category in pop music. I was lucky enough to see Janelle perform live at Hoxton Bar and Kitchen last Thursday, and as I suspected, the album rises to another level when delivered live. Particularly noteworthy tracks include the sonic vocals of 'Cold War' the movingly MJ-esque 'Locked Inside', epic end credits 'Say You'll Go' and electric lead single 'Tight Rope'. It may take this album to establish Ms Monae, but her sheer talent means she's in this for the long run. Enjoy. MN

This album is tipping on the tightrope perfectly

Great album, Monae you are doing well in the UK, I am going to try to advertise you much more, just a wonderful artist!

Biography

Born: 01 December 1985 in Kansas City, KS

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Growing up, Janelle Monáe (born Janelle Robinson) felt constrained by the limited resources offered to her in her greater Kansas City, Kansas home. When she finished high school, she moved to New York to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy with the intention of pursuing musical theater, but in 2004, after performing in a couple of off-Broadway shows and realizing there weren't roles available to her that she wanted, she moved to Atlanta to try her luck there. She soon joined a band and...
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The ArchAndroid (Deluxe), Janelle Monáe
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