I only approached this album after reading the very positive reviews on Any Decent Music? & I'm not someone who would usually like an artist with roots in R&B/Hip-hop, (I like classic rock albums) but Janelle Monae's stunning voice combined with her musical creativity and quirkiness all add up to a totally refreshing pop album which puts the likes of Lady Gaga and similar 'style over substance' poseurs to shame.
Admittedly for the un-initiated, the unusual move of classical leading into rap on "Dance or Die" might make you wondering what you've got yourself into. By the time you get to "Locked Inside", which smacks of MJ's Off The Wall, you'll be totally sucked into the rhythm. It's not all catchy beats though, there's sixties style ballads (Sir Greenhorn) Folk (57821) Funk (Tightrope) Rock (Come Alive) and just plain weirdness, (Neon Gumbo, Make The Bus). Each new track takes you in an unexpected direction, keeping even the lengthy 18 track disc feeling fresh all the way through. Repeated listens just add to the enjoyment, and you'll find yourself appreciating the uniqueness of each track.
Keeping this all together is the richly textured and varied voice of Monae, sometimes soulful, sometimes powerful, sometimes screeching like a rock chick, and at one point hilariously parodying her squeaky voiced pop contemporaries in the song "Wondaland"
If I was to garner one criticism it's that Monae is sometimes too eager to take a backseat for her support acts. No more obvious is this than on "Make The Bus," a song which has all the correct musical elements to work, but you keep waiting for Janelle to snatch the microphone out of Of Montreal's hands and take control, but it never comes.
Truly refreshing from start to finish, The Archandroid is the perfect antidote for those music lovers disillusioned with the modern pop charts. For those who aren't, it's time to find out what you've been missing.