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May 31, 2010 | by  | in Music |
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The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III of IV)

Artist: Janelle Monáe
Album: The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III of IV)
Label: Bad Boy

As debut albums go, Janelle Monáe’s is one which could not be accused of lacking in ambition. The ArchAndroid is bursting at the seams with creative zest. Spanning a vast number of diverse genres, it could be accused of being too scattered if it weren’t for the absolute joy running throughout and the utter conviction with which she somehow pulls it all off. Inspired by the sci-fi German expressionist film Metropolis, it’s a concept album about a future where androids are the feared “other” in society, but Monáe convinces us to embrace them and that “androids are sexy!”

Unlike Madonna-reincarnate Lady Gaga, Janelle Monáe has true variety of talent and uniqueness of vision. This album is somehow more than the sum of its many parts: it is never stale, but also never chaotic. It’s brilliantly composed and has insane cohesion of vision for such a massive project. It’s fitting that The ArchAndroid is largely produced by Big Boi; his Outkast partner Andre 3000’s The Love Below is perhaps the closest in spirit to what Monáe has concocted here. It’s certainly not short on theatrics. But Monáe has honed in her eccentricities and eclectic taste to something both focused and loose. Taking The Love Below comparison further, the one-two punch of ‘Cold War’ and ‘Tightrope’ is definitely Monáe’s ‘Hey Ya!’ moment, and she revels in it. Check out the video for ‘Tightrope’—she can certainly bust a move. (Is that an updated moonwalk?)

Her talent as a singer alone is impressive—at times like Janis Joplin (‘Come Alive’) and at others uncannily similar to Lauryn Hill (‘Neon Valley Street’) and even sometimes a prepubescent Michael Jackson (‘Faster’). And that’s not even taking into account her songwriting abilities. She masters styles ranging from psychedelic space-rock, funk, beautiful soul numbers, R&B, hip-hop to folk, and 50’s girl group harmonies with sweeping orchestral arrangements lending it all a panoramic depth.

Where many lesser artists get trapped by the limits of a concept like this imagined future world, Monáe avoids the pretention these projects can become by her sheer exuberance; her hugely likeable personality. It’s ultimately unnecessary to buy into the overarching concept. This is an immensely enjoyable album, front to back, filled with universally human themes and should have a wide appeal. She deserves all the success she gets.

4/5

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Comments (10)

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  1. matthew says:

    “Unlike Madonna-reincarnate Lady Gaga, Janelle Monáe has true variety of talent and uniqueness of vision.”
    why, because lady gaga’s italian american and something of a provocateur? aside from her first few singles, their output, both in scope and subject matter, couldn’t be much more different. i agree that this album’s good (oh cool another four outta five from my homie seb) but bad romance and paparazzi trump ANYTHING on here in terms of ambition and execution.

  2. Joe says:

    man this matthew guy needs to chill

  3. James Beavis says:

    He should get a formspring or something

  4. matthew says:

    FUCK YOU ALL

  5. Jono says:

    Haha I reckon Matthew has some prior history with Seb featuring as his school arch nemesis always edging him out to second best and now, turned villain, he attempts to foil (by foil I mean post moderately negative comments) Seb’s otherwise well written reviews….

  6. matthew says:

    i am stealing that concept 4 a music video, peace

  7. C.J says:

    Wow yeah, I think Matthew’s jealousy for Seb’s incredible reviews has consumed him and blinded him so he can no longer read but can only post the negativity that is seething within him. Go take it out on your pillow man.
    Seb, you da man. There will always be jealousy in this world, especially with people as talented as yourself. Just don’t let it stop you from reaching the top.
    Looking forward to your next review “homie”. And if Matthew posts something obscene, I will seek out all the Matt, Matty’s, Matthew, Martholomews in this city and deal to him. I got cha back bro. “Peace”

  8. smackdown says:

    let seb review your band’s ep matthew

  9. matthew says:

    hey i just saw this, seb can review w/e he likes, except the one ep we’ve released to date is approx 1.5 years old. i’ll send a copy of our next one to salient though, no doubt.

  10. smackdown says:

    trap sprung

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