Art Official Age (2014)

1. Art Official Cage 2. Clouds 3. Breakdown 4. The Gold Standard 5. U Know 6. Breakfast Can Wait 7. This Can Be Us 8. What If Feels Like 9. affirmation I & II 10.Way Back Home 11.Funknroll 12.Time 13.affirmation III


In Prince’s latter days, after he stopped identifying himself as a symbol and stopped shaving words onto his face, he experienced a renaissance with critics and fans and most seemed to be quite pleased with his new directions. His music was much more mainstream, and seemed to remind many of his days of yore. I confess, however, that I never could jump on the bandwagon. I found many of his latter day records to be lacking, and this one really isn’t much different.

This record is too much “all over the place”. Listening to this record reminds me of starting to take a relaxing car ride through the beautiful countryside for an extend time, only to have your vehicle repeatedly riding over potholes, and having to pull the car over every couple of minutes due to some unforeseen instance.

Many of these songs have potential, start off rather nicely, but then deter into bizarre time changes, tempo changes, instrumental jarring sound effects, and strange soliloquies by guest artists. This is apparent right from the beginning with the two opening tracks Art Official Cage and Clouds. One hears potential in these two songs, but they go off in so many different directions that it makes your head spin. You simply can never fully relax and enjoy the songs. It sounds like he’s trying way too hard to be eclectic. I’m also getting tired of his songs where the interlude (or introduction, or conclusion) has some sexy, slutty female voice begin talking over the music and saying things like “Mr. Nelson. You must relax your ego. You are now commanded to devote your sex to the opposite sex while you are hallucinating in your trance.” Or something like that. One wishes he would just focus on songs and not try to make them bizarre experiences. To be fair, this is supposed to be a “concept” album, but when one can’t figure out the concept after multiple listens, it really does become a moot point.

There are a few times when the songs are allowed to simply be songs and this is incredibly refreshing. The Gold Standard is obviously the best thing here, showing off the funkier side of the purple one. It’s good. It’s very good. However you can’t call it a classic. Especially when it’s buried under so much weirdness. Same could be said for Funknroll. At least that one can play quite well on the dance floor. This Could Be Us is also quite beautiful as is Breakdown. One wishes that he could have saved these songs for a different record where he could achieve the same level of consistency throughout an entire record.

He certainly was trying to make some sort of statement. With his new stylish afro and donning specs that made him look like, I dunno, an insect (?) , he certainly had everyone’s attention. So he was definitely still in the limelight, or at least as much as any other artist that peaked 30 years prior. There was just too many voice-overs, too many garbled electronic toddler sounds, and not enough above average music. I just couldn’t really dig this one.

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