Prince opens his latest studio offering, Art Official Age, like he is about to educate us all. The 33rd studio album for Prince is an offering that is all pure Prince and avant- guard in it’s delivery. It is heavily produced with a lot of synthesiser and loops happening throughout all tracks. It is a concept album where Prince has woken up 45 years in the future and this is his take on what music will be. At times the album is fantastic, at times disjointed and confusing.
’Art Official Cage’ opens the album with a lot of pizazz and is a promising start. It is dance and electro with a great beat. Album highlight is the bitter sweet track ‘Breakdown’ with it’s piano introduction and reflective lyrics. ’Clouds’ is defiantly a confusing track and halfway in it gets hard to follow, there is no definitive song structure and it meanders through the 4 min 33 seconds with bizarre loops and voice overs. It is hard to listen to and a little grating.
Backed by the all female group 3RDEYEGIRL, the second offering, Plectrumelectrum, is the more rock of the two albums, delivering rocking guitar and big drums. When Prince is backed by a band, no matter which band it is, he delivers some classic rock tracks. Prince shares singing duties with the girls on the album, handing over the reigns for tracks ‘Pretzelboylogic’ and ‘Aintturningaround’. Whilst the girls are sufficient when it comes to singing, it could have been left off, as at times it comes across cheesy.
’Tictactoe’ has to be the stand out track of the album with smooth vocals from Prince and slowed down soft guitar that is soothing. It is a sweet ballad that is easy to listen to. This song is a testimony to the fact that Prince certainly knows how to write and produce a beautiful ballad. Closing the album with ‘Funknroll’, a classic Prince track with funky guitar and powerful vocals. It is a fun way to close the album and a perfect choice for the finale. All round though this is a great album for any Prince fan.
It is surprising that Prince has not had any singles really break it into the charts this decade. However, as long as there is music to be made then Prince will be there to make it. Both albums are distinctly different and can not be compared to each other. Art Official Age is defiantly for the true Prince fan as it is very challenging to listen to and is more of a concept at times than an actual album. Plectrumelectrum is much easier to listen to as it is a more main stream rock offering from the eternally talented artist. If Prince is wanting to rejuvenate old fans or capture new listeners then there is certainly something that will capture listeners on either album.
Reviewer: Amanda Starkey