[sic] Magazine

Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady

Can Janelle Monae match 2011’s masterful The ArchAndroid ? The answer is that too right she can. Ms Monae may cut a diminutive figure but has a talent as big as a continent and the best funk songwriting credentials this side of Prince . The purple genius is also to be found on this new album The Electric Lady crooning along with the Atlanta chanteuse on the blues funk of ‘Given Them All My Love’. It is one of many sterling collaborations on a record which is a daring and massively inventive throughout. It places Monae in pole position when it comes to producing wildly commercial psychedelic funk-pop. Hover your needle over any part of the 19 tracks on The Electric Lady and rich rewards flow. From the joyous rush of ‘Dance Apocalyptic’ – full of pounding rhythms and zombie references – to the nasty funk of ‘Q.U.E.E.N featuring Eryeka Badu ‘ – this new album is a veritable jukebox of potential hits.

Again, underpinning the album is Monae’s playful concept of the personality of Cindy Mayweather – her messianic android alter-ego. If you like that sort of thing then fine, but frankly it’s the music that counts. Infectious is the key word. The classic pop of ‘We Were Rock n Roll’ absolutely defies you to sit still. The joie de vivre of tracks such as the summer fun of ‘It’s Code’ demand a compulsory smile with Monae often sounding like the young Michael Jackson . Things slow nicely on the eerie ballad ‘Look Into My Eyes’; while on ‘Victory’ she shows what an impeccable soul talent she is with the best vocal on the album. One small negative are the DJ interludes spaced throughout the album, which you will either love or press fast forward in high irritation. Other standouts include the smooth Latin rhythms of ‘Dorothy Dandridge Eyes’, a song dedicated to the first African-American actress to be nominated for an Oscar, as well as the bright, almost Stevie Wonder -inflected ballad ‘Sally Ride’ charting the first American woman to travel in space. The album is rounded off with ‘What An Experience’ infused with reggae beats and a melody to die for.

The Electric Lady is sheer invention writ large. This is smart, intelligent music from an artist entering her stride and picking up the pace. She is now one of the most audacious singer-songwriters with a foot in the mainstream, but with enough ambition to dominate the planet. One of the songs on the album ‘Ghetto Woman’ is dedicated to her mother and we should thank Mrs Monae Sr for sharing her daughter’s huge talent with us. The Electric Lady , like its predecessor has a couple of quirks which could have been ironed out, but perhaps it is these small blemishes on a near perfect beast that makes this album so on the money.