Janelle Monae

 

CD OF THE WEEK: The ArchAndroid,Bad Boy *****

Unfortunately, this means we have to endure a conveyor belt of acts who look and sound alike and also spout the same cliches as the previous batch. Standing out from the crowd, though, is something that Janelle Monae has been doing all her career, and not just because of the striking androgynous, besuited, bequiffed look she favours. That’s really just the start of things.

There are, after all, very few albums that will come your way based on the life and times of Cindi Mayweather, an android living in the city of Metropolis in 2719. While such concepts are nothing new, you won’t, however, find an album this year as infectious, astonishing, headturning and downright magnificent as The ArchAndroid.

When you distil what Monae is doing, you’ll find traces of soul, funk, R‘n’B, pop and rock. But when Monae puts these elements together in the shape of some fabulous songs, she sounds like absolutely no one else out there. There are influences sure enough – you’ll be hearing Prince, Nina Simone, Erykah Badu and Sly Stone in there – yet Monae has found what sounds like a brand new channel to tune into. It helps hugely that she has songs that don’t rely on concept album gimmicks to make a mark. While it’s ultimately a soul album, Monae can also turn her hand to straightahead radio-friendly pop ( Cold War, Wondaland, Tightropewith Outkast’s Big Boi), alien funk dalliances ( Dance Or Diewith Saul Williams) and highly entertaining rock wig-outs ( Mushrooms Roses, Come Alive). Most remarkably of all, none of these diversions sound forced or out of place, instead folding naturally into the flow of the album. The biggest question of all after this supernova, jawdropping experience is where the hell Monae goes from here. You certainly won’t be alone in wanting to hitch a ride in her spaceship to get a taste of what comes next.

See myspace.com/janellemonae

Download tracks: Wondaland, Tightrope, Cold War, Dance Or Die