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Janelle Monáe “The Age of Pleasure” Album Review

The Age of Pleasure

Janelle Monáe

  • Genre: R&B/Soul
  • Date: 09 Jun, 2023
  • Content: explicit
  • Region: NGA
  • Track(s): 14
  • ℗ 2023 Wondaland Productions LLC under exclusive license to Bad Boy Records LLC

Janelle Monáe &Quot;The Age Of Pleasure&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, September 23, 2023

Born in the United States on 1 December 1985, Janelle Monáe Robinson is a singer, rapper, and actress. She has won a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Children’s and Family Emmy Award, in addition to being nominated for eight Grammy Awards. The ASCAP Vanguard Award, the Rising Star Award (2015), and the Trailblazer of the Year Award (2018) from Billboard Women in Music have all been given to Monáe. She has contracts with her imprint, the Wondaland Arts Society, and Atlantic Records.

Janelle Monáe has been creating high-concept R&B for more than ten years, to the point that even the album covers included subtitles. Monáe’s albums have positioned her as a part-human, part-cyborg figure in a dystopian future that is equal parts Afrofuturism and the sexually ambiguous personae of 1970s Bowie. You couldn’t criticize Monáe’s dedication to her duties, which appeared to include giving interviews while acting out her parts. The albums did, however, sell decently rather than wildly, giving rise to songs that slowly gained gold status without reaching the Top 40.

On 9 June 2023, Atlantic Records released Janelle Monáe’s fourth studio album, The Age of Pleasure. “Float” and “Lipstick Lover” are the two singles released to support the album. When “Lipstick Lover” was released, Monáe also revealed the album she had teased at her Met Gala after-party in early May. It is her first studio album in more than five years since “Dirty Computer” (2018), her previous release.

Album Art

Janelle Monáe &Quot;The Age Of Pleasure&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, September 23, 2023

Unabashedly, “Sensuality” screams from the album cover. Aside from a G-string, the famous R&B singer is seen swimming through the legs of young people in a barely clad fashion. This picture strongly suggests the album’s theme; all left to do is kick your heels off and float along with the “waves,” as seen with swimming -You can’t say too much about this experience.

Tracks And Features

The 14-track album’s first track, “Float,” is the rousing response to “Django Jane”‘s battle cry. Monáe is no longer in a state of survival. Over the sound of angelic horns, they declare, “No, I’m not the same, nigga.” They have established themselves as a “free-ass motherfucker,” refusing to interact with intolerance in any way. The ecclesiastic delight of luxury is celebrated in the Age of Pleasure. According to the Faithful Book, faithful Christians are not required to forgo earthly pleasures. “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do,” it says. Monáe keeps the drinks flowing and the good times going with those who appreciate them in all their complexity while shaking their Baptist tits on a yacht while dressed entirely in white.

In an idealized Pan-African society, Monáe thrives. Nate Wonder, a co-producer of Wondaland, combines several elements to create an Afrofuturistic soundtrack. The electronic dance song “Champagne Shit” combines an electric piano sound with a sinuous synth that imitates the ney flute from ancient Egypt. Monáe links themselves with their regality by evoking the historical memory of these productive civilizations. On the muggy “Phenomenal,” Amapiano grooves and android ball culture collide. Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 provide the album’s resonant brass throughout; Wonder adds the airy woodwinds typical of Afrobeats. Without reggae music and Caribbean riddims, no diasporic album is complete, and Sister Nancy’s appearance in the “The French 75” interlude perfectly captures the spirit of carefree camaraderie. Each influence fluctuates throughout the album, like friends dropping by for rum.

The blues have long allowed Black queer people to experiment with their sexuality and gender expression. The worship of one’s flesh and desire, which are made in God’s likeness, subverts the admiring gazes of others who want to want and control their body: “I would fuck me right here and right now if I could.” Guilty pleasures are rendered guiltless. “Lipstick Lover” imagines the sapphic orgie where you arrive seeking an anonymous thrill but leave with three new closest friends. Monáe would play the broad-shouldered heartthrob and the yearning damsel if the album were a hot tropical romance book. They beg, “Leave a sticky hickey in a place I won’t forget.”

A group of diverse collaborators balances the masculine and feminine forces of The Age of Pleasure. Grace Jones contributes her husky French to the sensual interlude “Ooh La La.”Doechii’s raspy, arrogant verse on “Phenomenal” is reminiscent of Rihanna’s Good Girl Gone Bad phase. Black movie star Nia Long provides the voiceover for “The Rush’s” mesmerizing spoken-word introduction. The song “Fucking you like it’s my destiny” by Ghanaian-American artist Amaarae finest captures Monáe’s apocalyptically sexual spirit. No one disparages women as conquests, not even those enslaved by passion. The polyamory ode “Only Have Eyes 42” and the acoustic memory “A Dry Red” contain tender aftercare.

Tracklist

NO TITLE TIME
1 Float (feat. Seun Kuti & Egypt 80′) 4:02
2 Champagne Shit 2:23
3 Black Sugar Beach 1:05
4 Phenomenal (feat. Doechii) 3:37
5 Haute 1:36
6 Oooh La La (feat. Grace Jones) 0:35
7 Lipstick Lover 2:49
8 The Rush (feat. Nia Long & Amaarae) 2:43
9 The French 75 (feat. Sister Nancy) 1:09
10 Water Slide 2:44
11 Know Better (feat. CKay, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80′) 2:49
12 Paid In Pleasure 1:46
13 Only Have Eyes 42 2:50
14 A Dry Red 1:51

 

Album Summary

The R&B shapeshifter abandons the high-concept Afrofuturism of past albums in favor of a hazily intoxicating concoction of sex and partying that combines Afrobeat, reggae, and laid-back soul. Due to the short length of the album, those moments are quickly replaced by others in which Monáe sounds as airy and warm as the music she is singing over, such as when she sings in a light high register on The Rush, or when she is lushly multi-tracked on Water Slide, or when she raps – something she has always been remarkably proficient at – on Haute or Champagne Shit. And in those circumstances, The Age of Pleasure’s shortcomings seem excusable. If it’s not always the unrestrained joy it claims to be, it’s still a radical turn that won’t turn off fans of the previous high-concept Janelle Monáe. That’s a success in the present risk-averse pop culture.

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