Janelle Monáe

The Electric Lady

Bad Boy • 2013

R’n’B would long be extinct, if it wasn’t for the handful of people pumping new life into the genre once every few years. Recently, no one has contributed to exhuming the genre as enthusiastically as Janelle Monáe. On her second record, the 27-years-musician keeps pursuing this path with great passion. It’s still all about love in mechanical times, about desire, rebellion, about passion. In addition to Miguel, Solange and Erykah Badu, Janelle Monáe has even managed to win over Prince as a featuring artist. And with no great fuzz, she casually outsings The Artist Formerly Known As in »Givin Em What They Love«, even though this record is clearly less epic and less well-structured than the previous one. There are no more obvious hits. Instead, you’ll find a continuous atmosphere, a coherent feeling created by this album. »Can’t Live Without Your Love« could be much more bombastic, but Monáe knows exactly what »The Electric Lady« wants and where she is going: straight to the heart. For this purpose, the North American singer has trimmed back the experiments. While »The ArchAndroid« came along as a widescreen, »The Electric Lady« has finer and softer elements to offer. Subtle and charmingly, the rhythm of »Dorothy Dandridge Eyes« caresses Monáes vocals; and even the track »We Were Rock’n’Roll« holds its e-guitars back, doesn’t bluster to the front. This time, pop has played a much bigger role in shaping this record, even though every nuance of every track still breathes soul, HipHop and funk. No one might be as good at merging all these elements together as Janelle Monáe is. Love has never sounded more truthful than on this record.