Verdict: 3 / 5
Pharrell is everywhere these days, isn’t he? The amount of times I heard “Get Lucky” immediately followed by “Blurred Lines” almost drove me to the edge, but at least I still think “Happy” is good for a few more listens before I immediately change the channel. The point is is that Pharrell seemingly has the ability to be everywhere in the industry at the same time, as those who just watched the most recent Oscars would notice, and seems to be demonstrating that his fame from the early 2000’s is not undeserved, with a noticeable talent in many different fields of music development. But how well does he do as a frontrunner on his own?
GIRL is only Pharrells second full solo album, since 2006 when the first one was released, and it is quite clear that he had a vision for what he wanted from it, and spent a lot of time getting it to that point, which is admirable. Pharrell says himself that the intention of the album is to be a feminist-pop selection, exploring different aspects of the female identity, and that may well be so, in which case congrats to him, but any listener would immediately notice that the lyrics themselves on nearly all the tracks are almost entirely subservient to the rhythm and beat; this is an album more about the dance and the party where you’ll play it, which I still don’t think is a bad thing, if done successfully.
The most obvious track on the album is “Happy;” the hit playing everywhere at the moment, which is an unashamedly fun, optimistic song that well deserves its success. However, the rest of the album is certainly not bad, but Happy does feel like the highpoint of the entire event. Skipping straight to Happy and then moving away like a lot of us would ends up feeling like a constant slide down again, rather than a wave of quality. Pharrell has succeeding in showing a variety of different pop styles, utilizing modern stars like Justin Timberlake and Miley Cyrus, and he makes them play well to their strengths, which is the mark of a good producer. However, the remainder of these songs still ends up feeling like simply homages to the pop stars of yesteryear, Michael Jackson notably, and while they’re good for some fun, they didn’t especially blow me away. Just buy Happy on its own from iTunes or something.