The second solo studio album by Pharrell Williams is here! Well, it seems the producer has finally put aside his main duties and decided to put himself in the spotlight after an incredible year for the 40-year-old (Get Lucky, Blurred Lines, producing records for Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar), man, does Pharrell even take a rest? But then again, his last solo studio album was dropped almost 8 to 9 years ago, and finally taking over the helm from the sidelines, can G I R L, a concept album that Williams himself has defined, do well or even better than his predecessor record (In My Mind) almost a decade ago?
So for those of you thinking you've been here longer than the man himself, well, you're wrong. Since the 90's, Pharrell has been a huge part of the R&B genre (and to a closer extent, hip-hop and soul) and was also part of the producing duo with Chad Hugo (who is now a member of N.E.R.D.). And thus, also invigorating some of the R&B sounds with come to listen to now on present day. But, what's really actually gave him the revolutionizing start to re-begin with was his almost flawless contributions to two of the hottest tracks on the Billboard Hot 100 that eventually got the attention of the eyes he wanted. Even if it isn't the ones he was going out to get. Now as a producer who has now come out of the shadows to do an album that would work (considering some of the tracks he's done), it may seem like the best idea. But when you have a solo album that happened almost 8 years ago, that suffered terribly, people might not buy into the fact that you're either a talented producer, or a decent songwriter that matches up with your singing abilities.
Lets take for example, Happy, the lead single off of this album. People enjoy the track, why? It's groove and the funky aspects come into play that translates itself to make it enjoyable, and that's one of the reasons why the song is so successful. But if you delve deeper, the track offers no essential meaning other than just be happy and not care about what others say. On the lack of voided lyricism, it is true that Pharrell more than makes up for it with his superb skills in the percussions, and funk guitars that happens not just on the single, but throughout the rest of the album. Now that sets the tone for Pharrell to dive in, and considering such funkiness throughout the album evokes the thoughts that Pharrell's instrumentations and production are almost most superb when compared to his songwriting and singing capabilities. And when I mean singing, Pharrell usually goes straight falsetto-ish and delivers sometimes awkward, messy and strange vibes that don't connect very well.
Let's be honest. As a lead act, there's not much when Pharrell on his own, can carry the helm. Not even being in the lead act, as long as he commandeers the ship alone, he already even has trouble anchoring the spot that he is voyaging into. Take for instance Get Lucky by Daft Punk which also features Nile Rodgers, that Pharrell obviously is immediately boosted by the fact that the instrumentation is enhanced and the production too, which makes his feature all the more charismatic and detailed. In G I R L, Brand New which features Justin Timberlake is a perfect spot-on example. Not only does Timberlake bring his charisma and his own set of falsettos to the table to par it with Pharrell, but to actually share it with Pharrell simply simplifies the fact that it doesn't necessarily focus on the main singer considering he is always better with another feature. Of course, the singing is awkward and it also showcases that, which probably also hinders the rest of the album in a wholesale kind of effect.
Also, if you notice the lyrical content Pharrell is putting up (along with some of the vibes he's been giving off), they sound so similar to the likes of Prince and Michael Jackson. Obviously, the stars of before definitely have much better songwriting lyric-wise than Mr. Williams himself, which makes the content on G I R L all the most un-witty and... weird. Sex is kung-fu? Hunting for women than ducks against Duck Dynasty? Taxidermy? That act is killing animals Pharrell. And your animals are women. What is wrong with you? Those are lyrics from Hunter, and Gush just exaggerates to another level. Apart from them, there is Come Get It Bae (Ride a motorcycle. Shh, it is Pharrell's. Not to mention Miley Cyrus does a great job albeit in a small feature) in which otherwise, provides once again attractive production, instrumentation and guitar riffs that rips apart the track in a solid way.
All in all, amazing production and instrumentation (you're talking Pharrell Williams for God's sake), but almost weird, awkward and random lyrics that put Pharrell in a spot where this 'concept album' suddenly shifts it's toes sideways.
Favourite Tracks: Happy, Come Get It Bae, Brand New
Least Favourite Tracks: Lost Queen, It Girl, Gush
Let's not take away the fact that Pharrell produces some of the best tracks that I have heard in a while, but the liability that is his songwriting is just too much to handle. It's okay, but it's always the beats and production, the groove and the funk that keeps the audience moving, while the lyrics just feel out of place. I'd recommend it, unless you're the person that don't really care about lyrics and that melody is what you're searching for, G I R L is great. But necessarily weighed down by some negativity that translates to a bad album elsewhere.
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.