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CD: Janelle Monae - Dirty Computer | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Janelle Monae - Dirty Computer

CD: Janelle Monae - Dirty Computer

The Kansas pop futurist discovers her own inner Rihanna

'What’s a one-time prim tuxedoed girl to do in a pop world full of bouncy Beyoncés?'

In an impressive pop royalty hat-trick, the title track features Brian Wilson, Pharrell pops up on “I Got the Juice”, and Prince helped source sounds for “Make Me Feel”. So does Kansas City gal Janelle Monae’s third album live up to expectations set by such a high calibre of contributors? Indeed, it does. Although, as impressive as it is, when Ms Monae insists on “Take a Bite” that she’s "not the kind of girl you take home to your mother", you might not be wholly convinced. But what’s a one-time prim tuxedoed girl to do in a pop world full of bouncy Beyoncés? Basically, either find her own inner Rihanna, or invent her.

Although at least she does this on her own terms and with a great deal of panache. That’s to say that the sexiness in both the songs and accompanying videos is wittily playful rather than full-on raunchy. On “Screwed”, for example, Monae does an amusing Madonna-meets-Laurie Anderson impersonation as she flatly proclaims, “Everything is sex, accept sex, which is power,” to a breezy melody that somehow conjures the memory of a dozen 1980s pop anthems all at once. And then on “Pynk” – a kind of post-feminist “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” (with the added proviso, with each other) – all lingering ambiguities are blasted away in a candy-floss-sweet video in which Monae and her dancers sport vagina-shaped trousers (don’t ask, just watch it).

Things finally come to a head, so to speak, when on “I Got the Juice” even Trump gets put in his place, as our petite warrior pop star chants, "You try to grab my pussy cat, this pussy grab you back," in that honey-toned voice of hers. But of course none of this would mean anything if it wasn’t for the fact that just about every song here is wonderfully catchy, coolly arranged and a hit single waiting to happen. It should also be noted that Mary Beard, Gloria Steinem, Naomi Wolf and the brilliant African-American painter Wangechi Mutu are credited as influences, so it’s not all about sex in the swimming pool.

@howardianmale

Just about every song here is wonderfully catchy, coolly arranged and a hit single waiting to happen

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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