Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Records.
It's been a hot minute since Pharrell dropped an album of his own. Though his influence has been pumping out of our speakers for years, his solo career has been relatively slow going. But, hey, distance makes the heart grow fonder, right? When it comes to Pharrell material, the answer is a hands-down, give-me-the-album-now kind of yes. If you feel the same, G I R L can be yours for the cool price of $0.00. He's partnered with iTunes to stream his new album days ahead of its March 3 debut.
Get into it because he's written the sound of 2014. Last year was all about the build, drop, build, drop kind of dance music. Daft Punk's Random Access Memories and Justin Timberlake's 20/20 Experience were refreshing breaks from the EDM headache, but Pharrell's new tunes take the soul-meets-R&B pop sound to a new level. He's created a sinister kind of cool with heavy, vibrating bass lines and a refined use of strings.
"Marilyn Monroe" kicks G I R L off pop-orchestra style. "Happy" is the infectious and deserving first single that, if you haven't watched the mesmerizing video, can loop for a full 24 hours. As the album continues its ascent toward ecstasy, Pharrell's falsetto rises to unimaginable heights. Justin Timberlake creeps around in "Brand New," Alicia Keys brings the soul in "Know Who You Are," and Miley Cyrus even makes a cameo. It's Pharrell's party and everyone's invited.
The entire album is packed with potential singles, but "Lost Queen" is a standout. It might never make the radio, but man, if it did, how epic would that be? It's what "Pyramids" was to Frank Ocean's Channel Orange; a novel of a pop track that'll pick you right up before laying you down. G I R L has singled itself out as one of this year's albums that you can listen straight on through without getting tired. It's a mature study in lust, love, and bedroom romps that's free of superficial hedonism. Pharrell might sing about sleaze, skeeze, and everything in between at times, but he manages to never be disrespectful. Chivalry isn't dead; it's just been hiding under this hat. And, if we had one of those we'd take it off to the gentleman from Virginia. This album swings.