Pharrell Williams is set to take his place on the jury of the ‘The Voice’ in America. It caps a whirlwind 18 months for the 41 year-old singer/producer. Dom Kureen pays homage by sharing his opinion of the white-hot maestro’s latest solo album, ‘Girl.’
For Pharrell Williams 2013 was something of an annus mirabilis. Collaborating with the likes of Daft Punk, Robin Thicke and Azealia Banks ensured that the former Neptunes and N.E.R.D front man rarely drifted from the spotlight.
Eight years after hitting the solo scene with the widely panned ‘In My Mind,’ the ageless star launched his follow-up LP having morphed into a bonafide A-lister during the interim, with ‘Girl’ reaching the summit of the album charts in no fewer than eleven countries.
Striding into earshot with the typically addictive strains of ‘Marilyn Monroe’, a recent single release, it’s clear from the outset that fans are in for an annoyingly catchy stroll along melody lane. The casting of Kelly Osborne for background vocals provides an unexpectedly inspired addition to the track.
The steamy silhouette spawned by ‘Gush’ leaves little to the imagination, with dirty beats and suggestive lyrics that only cease during a synthesised string-dominated bridge that temporarily alleviates the steaminess.
‘Happy’, part of the ‘Despicable Me 2′ soundtrack, has been a staple of radio waves and YouTube videos during the past couple of months, yet remains the album’s inspirative calling card, temporarily transforming Williams’ sweet counter-tenor into a decadent slice of Cee Lo Green.
Also noteworthy is the tightly hooked ‘Gust of Wind,’ a composition boosted by the unmistakable accent of French electro duo Daft Punk. Recounting a self-effacing tale of romance, this surely warrants a single release.
Amongst the easily absorbed harmonies are inevitably a couple of self-indulgent miscues.
‘Lost Queen’ is an absurdly dull love letter that rarely advances beyond glorified artist ejaculation and is little more than the gristle on the pork chop.
‘Brand New’ is a notch or two superior, although the inclusion of Justin Timberlake serves only to accentuate the shortcomings in Williams’ falsetto by placing him alongside a more sophisticated practitioner.
Even with those two unnecessary additions, there’s enough variety dispersed over the eleven tracks to make ‘Girl’ a worthwhile purchase.
If you’re not a fan of this tweak of direction, there are hints of Pharrell’s former life as a Neptune in ‘Hunter’, a song which flagrantly borrows its baseline from Diana Ross and contains an almost identically laid out rap interlude to Debbie Harrie’s ‘Rapture’ confabulate.
An album most notable for threaded sexual undertones and elaborate orchestration (credit for the latter goes to master composer Hans Zimmer,) ‘Girl’ delivers a decent, if not superlative, addition to the singer’s ever expanding body of work.
Pharrell’s bandwagon continues apace, with another worthwhile release.