Prince is neither conventional nor conformable. His music always led his admirers where they least expected him. Recently, he released not one but two completely different albums and as usual confused the issue. One (“Plectrumelectrum“) goes by the name of his latest group, 3rdeyegirl and the other one (“Art Official Age“) is labelled Prince. I have been an avid devotee since “Purple Rain” and although he has been disappointing me a few times, I just cannot miss a Prince release. The man is a prolific artist and a gifted musician. He could sing the phone book, yet make it sound fresh and unique.
FROM WEIRD HEAVY METAL
Plectrumelectrum is a rock oriented album with a weird heavy metal twist, mostly supported by his girl group protegees. Which is a major letdown to me. I tend to think that Prince is self-sufficient but the man always liked to be surrounded by… dispensable ethereal muses.
The music appears raw, rugged and muddled, Prince’s voice is gritty, almost strained and the sound is indisputably metallic. Guitar riffs are ruthless, giving the impression that Prince is out of control. Some tracks are even intoxicating, like the tormenting refrain of “Pretzelbodylogic“. The first four tracks follow that pattern until “Whitecaps” comes, bringing a cool breeze. “Boytrouble” reconnects with funk roots while the trance-inducing ballad “Tictactoe” lingers in your brain for hours. And then “Funknroll” pops in, spreading out like golden sparks of a firework.
TO FLAMBOYANT FUNK
“Funknroll” is also featured on his solo album, Art Official Age, although reinterpreted. The album undeniably bears the princely seal. The musical mood is mostly cheerful and flamboyant. It starts off with “Art Official Cage“, a sparkling disco house tune, moves to the sleek and catchy “Clouds“. Subsequent to a classic light ballad lifted by his falsetto (“Breakdown“), Prince is picking us up for a 80ish funky ride with “The Gold Standard“. The climax is reached with “U Know“, “Breakfast Can Wait” and “This Could Be Us“. Probably a feeling close to the one you get, slipping into silky sheets.
“What It Feels Like” is a pleasant duet with female singer Andy Allo. The album is evolving into a more spiritual and vulnerable tone with “Way Back Home“. The man sings that he doesn’t belong here, that “most people in this world are born dead but” that he “was born alive“. The final touch is “Time“, an elegant 7 minute track backed up by female vocals.
Once again, Prince is leaving his fans dazzled. He is lifting the curtain on future music, treading upon unexplored grounds, experimenting and reinventing musical art. An art free from artificial flavors.