“The Age of Pleasure” by Janelle Monáe (Atlantic Records)
A girl’s gotta relax. A girl’s gotta go with the funk. A girl’s gotta have her fun. Janelle Monáe’s fourth studio album “The Age of Pleasure” is a study in sexy chill by the pool in the sun.
The 14 tracks of pan-African sounds flow into one another seamlessly, some gently ending at around a minute mark and morphing into THE vibe, some declaring loud and clear what they’re about (ahem, “Lipstick Lover”). The artist is not afraid to experiment with sounds going from vintage funk, trumpets, flutes, steel drums or jazzy piano or to profess her wish for a smoke, a drink or some vigorous smooching.
Listening to the album is like being at the world’s most polite orgy; the lyrics are dirty and bold, but the sound is mellow, subversive, enveloping you like a safety blanket. This indeed is not the Monáe of “Dirty Computer.” As she declares in the first single on the track list, “Float” – “I am not the same,” someone who boasts of newfound confidence and bisexual conquests on both coasts.
Guests at this party include Seun Kuti featuring on “Float,” Nia Long on “Rush,” Grace Jones on “Oh la la,” but find yourself an invite, too, 'cause it’s a great ride.
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Cristina Jaleru, The Associated Press