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Janelle Monáe has come up with a robotic alter ego named Cyndi Mayweather, and the Metropolis Suites are her story through an oppressive world in which she discovers she is a Messiah-like figure in hopes to free her people. Her EP first introduced the character with Suite I and her plight, and ArchAndroid is the more personal continuation with Suites II and III. I just hope we won't have to wait three more years for Suite IV.
To say that ArchAndroid is a good achievement as a debut album is a huge understatement as it is an amazing achievement. Written on paper, this CD shouldn't work, as it just sounds way too ambitious. From the conceptual plot to the multitude of genres (psychobilly, glam, hip-hop, jazz, funk, afro-beat, and film music to name a few) to the numerous big named guest artists, it feels like a mess and just too big for one person, but if her EP proved anything it proved one thing, she IS that ambitious and has the guts to attempt it. And she doesn't just succeed, she excels.
The album opens up with a sweeping, energetic orchestral overture then immediately moves on to the next three songs played without break. And with only the first 4 songs (and just as many genres), you know you are in for a ride like no other. The ArchAndroid just grips you and never eases up giving you time to breath, it just keeps moving forward. With songs like Come Alive, Tightrope, and Cold War, Suite II is very in your face compared to Suite III.Read more ›
The lyrics touch on love, war, and slavery, while the sounds range from Classical; the dramatic suite overtures, Indie; "Come alive (The war of the roses)", trippy Rock; the psychedelic Hendrix-channeling "Mushrooms & roses" with distorted vocodered vocals, Pop; the bouncy Motown-esque "Faster", "Cold war" (on which she sounds like Beyoncé, but without the over-reaching she is prone to), and retro Soul; "Locked inside", the Stevie Wonder-esque "Oh, Maker", the lush Lauryn Hill-esque "Neon valley street" with a lovely guitar solo, while "Neon gumbo" is the sound of a song playing backwards.
"Dance or die" features Saul Williams and a spitfire delivery from Monáe, groovy baseline, and an Afro beat feel. Lead-off single "Tightrope" is retro Funk featuring Outkast's Big Boi and "the funkiest horn section in Metropolis", sounding like something from Outkast's "Idlewild" album (on which she appeared). Punk Rock group Of Montreal feature on the quirky alt Pop "Make the bus", "Wondaland" is midtempo and incredibly catchy, while the dreamy acoustic ballad "57821" features Deep Cotton and sounds folky and hymnal, like The Fleet Foxes.
The woozy "Sir Greendown"is an enchanting ballad, the breezy ballad "Say you'll go" reminds me of Stevie Wonder's "Rocket love" in places, while closing is the lush Jazzy "BaBooByeYa" which meanders through different movements, a mini opera sounding like something Shirley Bassey would do.Read more ›
What you want to really listen to is Suite II Overture, cut 1, and cut 4, Locked Inside (which has the drumming transition you hear at the beginning of MJ's "Rock with You". There are few things being dropped these days that surprise. Archandroid is among them. After the Overture, dig into "Dance or Die," which again puts me in the mind of the Jackson family, namely Janet, as this song sounds eerily similar to "I Bet You Think This Song is About You." Janelle's power is in her daring to take risks.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Skipping the first time I played it. This is one of a few that I've bought from Amazon that skip right out of the package.Published 6 months ago by Lauren
In my mind this one was BRILLIANT! I am in love with everything about her! I want to live in her free minded world of peace! She is so talented with amazing mature messages! Read morePublished 8 months ago by Ben
She is totally weird but totally talented. The concept album takes a leap of imagination but is worth the payoff. Future robotic soul. Who knew?Published 10 months ago by Sean Rice