Janelle Monae - Age of Pleasure

Regular price $ 28.99

"Float" was the right lead single for the first Janelle Monáe album in five years. The horns of Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 play a fanfare for the uncommon Monáe, who self-exalts with prancing bars and buoyant hooks, recounting a personal transformation through the shedding of all insecurities and inhibitions, and enumerating their effortless attainment of sensual, psychological, and material gratification. The song is powered by Nigerian woodwinds and brass and Kingston-to-Atlanta rhythms that are roughly equal parts rocksteady and trap. One thing "Float" doesn't have in common with the rest of the album is its four-minute duration. The other songs average half that length, and though many whip by in a flash, they're parts of a flowing sequence that could be billed as a suite like Monáe's Metropolis saga. There's no science fiction in The Age of Pleasure. Dedicated to those "around the diaspora and those seeking to join us," its delights are earthly in a way that echoes Monáe's listed track-by-track inspirations, which most pertinently acknowledge those finding communality and liberation in bashment parties, ballroom culture, and ATL strip clubs. (Objects such as "the weathered copy of Doggystyle framed in my cousin Myron's clogged bathroom" are cited too.) In addition to the Afrobeat element often brought in by Egypt 80, and appearances from a mix of legends and up-and-comers, The Age of Pleasure is threaded with interpolations and samples of numerous reggae classics. It still sounds just like a Wondaland production -- soulful, left-of-center pop that is ornate and tasteful, brimming with ideas from subtly dazzling vocal arrangements to crafty song transitions. The material follows through on the title, celebrating an ideal for sybaritic living whether alone, with a partner, or with partners. "Water Slide" opens with one of the boldest statements a person could make about themself and appropriately contains sumptuous all-Monáe harmonies in the chorus. "Only Have Eyes 42" is polyamorous lovers' rock tricked out with strings and laser FX that convey a mix of romance and haywire hormones. In this context, the one-on-one songs -- the steady-bobbing "Lipstick Lover," the more heated "Paid in Pleasure," and the soft Brazilian touch of "A Dry Red" -- are charmingly quaint, even when explicit. There's joy in every moment. It's no coincidence that Monáe chose Pride Month and Black Music Month -- ten days before Juneteenth, to be precise -- to release a multicultural album of unrepressed spirit built for playing in the sunshine.

On Classic Black Vinyl

A1 Float
     Featuring – Seun Kuti + Egypt 80
A2 Champagne Shit
A3 Black Sugar Beach
A4 Phenomenal
     Featuring – Doechii
A5 Haute
A6 Ooh La La
     Featuring – Grace Jones
A7 Lipstick Lover
B1 The Rush
     Featuring – Amaarae, Nia Long
B2 The French 75
     Featuring – Sister Nancy
B3 Water Slide
B4 Know Better
     Featuring – CKay
B5 Paid In Pleasure
B6 Only Have Eyes 42
B7 A Dry Red