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Album review: Pharrell Williams - G I R L

7th March 2014

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He’s everywhere you look (in a lofty cowboy hat) and ‘Happy’ is everywhere right now igniting northern soul dance solos across the world.  

Pharrell Williams GIRLThe 40-year-old skateboarding fanatic has every reason to be happy at the moment, having won Producer of the Year at the Grammys this year.

Pharrell Williams has produced some of the most chart-triumphing songs in r&b over the last decade and worked with everyone from Madonna to Jay-Z, and now he releases a winning follow-up to his 2006 debut solo album In My Mind.

With the ability to bring Madge to the urban masses and rejuvenate the career of Britney Spears with hits ‘Slave For You’ and later on ‘Boys’, Williams has often been hailed as the saviour of contemporary soul. Now, he turns his creative efforts to his own music standing alone in the credits as writer and composer for the majority of the album.

Justin Timberlake and Alicia Keys are the only outside features on this album – one might that they are the reigning prince and princess of urban music, making this as a winning decision.

‘Brand New’ with Justin Timberlake is a majestic high-five to Snoop Dogg’s 2005 hit produced by Williams and fellow N.E.R.D member Chad Hugo, featuring Charlie Wilson and – you guessed it, JT. The incessant pulse of hip percussion carries the flamboyant trumpets, with falsetto vocals from Williams and Timberlake infused with the mighty force of nature that is Earth, Wind and Fire.

‘G I R L’ showcases Williams’s broad palette of inspiration as an artist, making for a respectable homage to dance and feel-good music throughout the ages.

‘Hunter’ promotes a cheeky tempo and a bass line tailored to a Mick Jagger strut, whilst ‘Marilyn Monroe’ leaves no questions as to what Williams adores in a woman, intensified by an astounding string section composed by no other than classical virtuoso Hans Zimmer.

Williams slows things down for the last quarter, showing a vulnerability and reminding us of the old wife’s reprimand that less, can sometimes be more. All becomes nice and calm like a hazy summer’s day - one can even hear the crashing of waves, literally.

The man many refer to as music’s Prince of Eternal Youth asserts his position as both the man of the moment and the future, ushering us into a robotic era with the electronic sounds of ‘Gust of Wind’.

A proud pupil of the old school, Williams offers a number of bass-heavy gems and to resist their infectious charm would require a conscious effort.

This album almost entirely detaches Williams from his previous hip-hop bravado and drives a more soulful melange of tenor and falsetto sculpted by Michael Jackson for which he has become famous.

Not many get away with it, but as his pitch and key soar, our moods do the same!

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