Album Review: The Electric Lady by Janelle Monáe
The Electric Lady is Monáe’s follow-up to 2010’s The Arch Android. It is the fourth and fifth chapters of the futuristic sci-fi saga Metropolis. Guest on the album include Prince, Erykah Badu, Miguel, Solange, and Esperanza Spalding. While this album has a more urban sound than the previous installment, it still manages to showcase Monáe’s skill as a vocalist, lyricist, and producer.
The most notable thing about the album is its sound. While it is still eclectic somewhat, it is mostly soul, funk, jazz, and R& B. While it may polarize fans of her idiosyncratic sound, it will also gain Monáe fans. A notable track with a Motown girl-group throwback sound is “Dance Apocalyptic”.
In addition to Monáe’s sound being centered, her lyrics are more focused on one thing: love. Tracks such as “Q.U.E.E.N.” “Electric Lady”, and “Ghetto Woman” focus on empowering women with self-love, while songs such as “PrimeTime”, and “Dorothy Danridge Eyes” focus on love for someone else. Other songs such as “Victory” and “What an Experience” focus on loving life overall.
While the thoughts on different aspects of love are interesting, a disappointing factor is the lack of the original concept in the lyrics. Unlike on the previous album, there is barely any mention of Monáe’s alter-ego Cindy Merryweather and her lover Sir Greendown. If Monáe was going for a more plain approach, then fine. However, those who are following the saga of Metropolis may feel a bit confused.
Finally, Monáe’s vocals are much richer on this album than her previous one. Maybe it is because she is doing genres best suited for her voice, but Monáe is reminiscent of Diana Ross and Erykah Badu. Some of best songs vocally are “Givin Em What They Love” and “Look Into My Eyes”.
This album is great for contemporary urban music fans. If you couldn’t get into Janelle Monáe before, then feel free to give her another chance.