Is it coincidence that the week Pharrell Williams released his first solo album in eight years, the sunshine returned to the shores of the UK? Of course it was, he’s not magic. What ability Pharrell lacks in weather manipulation however is more than made up for by his enormous talents in music and production.
It’s common knowledge that Pharrell was part of the two biggest songs of 2013 in the form of ‘Blurred Lines’ and ‘Get Lucky’, not to mention capturing the first number one of 2014 with his own song ‘Happy’. He is, as Stephen Hawking the evolutionary scientist put it in a recent interview, “Fucking Killing It”**. So with such an impressive success rate as of late there was a lot of expectation on ‘G I R L’.
Pharrell is known for taking things away in the studio, leaving just what he feels is necessary for the track to reach its potential. There is never any clutter or extra layers of synthesizer for the sake of it. It’s a high risk strategy in the sense that if a song is no good, there’s no razzmatazz to hide behind. Fortunately, Pharrell has a good sense of what works. Because of this, and in probably one of the most shock-less revelations of the past decade, ‘G I R L’ works.
It’s a fully formed dance-floor filler. As soon as first track ‘Marilyn Monroe’ kicks in the theme of the album is set. Groove led R&B disco that demands to be moved to. ‘Brand New’ calls on the powers of Justin Timberlake to offer his vocals to a duet which feels like a hit single in the making.
‘Hunter’ and ‘Gush’ are for the ladies. The latter, reminiscent of his work as part of N*E*R*D, lays its cards on the table early on “I could be the guy that treats you/to a nice movie feeds you/ but I don’t wanna mislead you/ tonight I wanna get dirty girl”.
Unlike his work in N*E*R*D there is no sign of Pharrell’s rap persona ‘Skateboard P’ anywhere on ‘G I R L’ which is testament to the producers dedication to the sound of the overall album. It doesn’t need it, even though it probably wouldn’t hurt. Besides if you want to hear some new Pharrell rhymes you can always check out the new Major Lazer track ‘Aerosol Can’.
Back to ‘G I R L’ and Miley Cyrus gets in on the action on ‘Come Get it Bae’ with a tune that even the militant anti-Cyrus crowd will struggle to dislike. ‘Gust of Wind’ is a highlight with whirring strings and trademark Daft Punk vocoders getting in on the action followed by ‘Lost Queen’ which is vying for the accolade of best track on the album thanks to its tribal beat and effortlessly cool rhythm.
‘IT Girl’ and ‘Know Who You Are’ bring proceedings to a close topping off what is sure to be the album of the year for many. Whilst Pharrell might not have the ability to summon summertime, G I R L has more than enough tunes to soundtrack it. Roll on July.
**May not be a real quote.