Fluent in Future Speak
Guess what? Newcomer Janelle Monáe has brought the concept album back! It seems to be a lost art with so much single-focused, digital download pop music nowadays. But Janelle’s first studio album, The ArchAndroid, defies genre categorization and is refreshingly creative.
On some tracks, Janelle sounds like a lounge singer from outer space with stunning vocals. Other tracks are upbeat with a rhythmic soul vibe that picks up where Outkast left off. Even though she signed with Puffy’s Bad Boy label, Janelle has Atlanta roots with Outkast, and Big Boi is a featured artist on the song “Tightrope,” which is a James Brown-influenced standout.
Janelle’s love of cinema is also apparent. The ArchAndroid has a cinematic feel, similar to a movie soundtrack. The album’s theme is based on the 1927 German silent film ‘Metropolis.’ Even the album cover goes along with this theme. Janelle plans to release a music video for each song in order to make a complete storyline for the album.
Across an eclectic mix of songs. Monáe’s clappin’ rhythms have a fast lyrical onslaught, island beats, and stellar rockin’ guitar licks and solos. The album has world music influences with a Shakira-esque sound, disco beats and jazzy elements that add spice to the mix. There are also Lauren Hill soul ballads and, occasionally, a touch of Madonna. “Mushrooms and Roses” sounds like it came from 1960’s psychedelic rock. There are even a few ‘intermission’ tracks of classical overtures. A resurrected Michael Jackson makes his influential mark on the disco smooth “Locked Inside” and would certainly be impressed with this album.
Overall, The ArchAndroid is a stellar debut worthy of praise for its artistry and originality. Expect to see more of this pop android of the future in the future.