Album Review: Pharrell, ‘G I R L’

Written by Asia Martin

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It has been EIGHT years since Pharrell debuted his first solo album, In My Mind. With all his accolades as a songwriter, record producer, and featured rapper and singer on multiple songs, it’s hard to believe that this music mogul is only on a second album. Most artists take time off to just be alive, but Pharrell kept busy like a little Diddy. He’s received seven awards, continuously changes the hip-hop industry with his sound and style, started iamOTHER to initiate a cultural shift towards individualism, had a son named Rocket Man, got married to model and fashion designer Helen Lasichanh, and then makes occasional headlines for his fashion choices (i.e. cropped suit pants and the park ranger hat he wore to the Grammy’s supposedly in honor of Malcolm McLaren).

Pharrell has been around this Universe more times than we know and his latest album G I R L is a compilation of all of his treasured experiences.

1. Marilyn Monroe: The track featuring an orchestration by composer Hans Zimmer (12 Years A Slave and The Lion King) introduces the album as a romantic club playlist “to all the lovers” and praises his love interest (which I would think is his “bestie”/wife) for being what he has always envisioned. The track is playful and dance worthy.

2. Brand New: A love ballad featuring Justin Timberlake who successfully helps Pharrell channel the late Michael Jackson. The beginning is slightly reminiscent of young Michael on his Off The Wall album. I’m surprised Pharrell didn’t go in-house to Robin Thicke, but JT delivers an effortless high pitched MJ sound so it is all good. The track is sweet and sunny like the first sign of spring or more so when one falls in love and starts “feelin’ brand new.”

3. Hunter: Pharrell carries his revival of the 70’s disco and funk from working with Daft Punk on their last album to this track about a woman in hot pursuit for a skateboarder with dope-ass beats. The main sound is guitar riffs that sex up the prowl.

4. Gush: At this point you and your lover should be in the bedroom ready to “light that ass on fire.” The track quickly reminds us of Pharrell’s hit with Busta Rhymes in the early 2000’s, “Light Your Ass On Fire,” except he’s in the forefront now. This track is a slower paced and yet still carrying upbeat guitar riffs.

5. Happy: Somehow, this sexy love-dove playlist has been broken up by a kid-friendly track from Despicable Me 2 that has yet to wear out its welcome in the public.

6. Come Get It Bae: This song is a cross between Missy Elliot’s “Pass That Dutch” and the extended remixed “Blurred LInes.” Miley Cyrus is featured in the hook and her presence actually makes the song better because the melody switches up to accompany her pace.

7. Gust of Wind: One of my favorite tracks that has a nice collaboration with Daft Punk and introduces a young Canadian prodigy by the name of Francesco Yates on the guitar. The beat smooths out to lower the mood but the guitar riffs are continuous and it keeps the tempo club-friendly.

8. Lost Queen: Another woman praising track that is fun and upbeat. It keeps you in a good mood even though it slips in a verse on Pharrell being from a war-prone world.

9. FREQ: The song opens with almost a minute of calming ocean waves and then it segues into the slow jam “FREQ” featuring JoJo. The tempo is slow as if the crooner is going to preach more love making but instead Pharrell channels what feels like Don Blackman and repeats his mantra “You got to go inward to experience the outer space that was built for you.”

10. Know Who You Are: Features the pro-women powerhouse vocalist Alicia Keys asking women to take a pledge towards a better world. The rhythm is light and the lyrics are not as deep as they should be for a serious message. But Pharrell is trying to keep his listeners happy.

11. It Girl: Finally, a cookout turned house party joint for the summer crew, at least that’s how I imagine this track playing into my life. Its down to Earth (yes, Pharrell has landed his spaceship) and a very chill melody.

It’s clear that Pharrell enjoys the King of Pop because his influence is almost on every other track of G I R L and the disco era has coated the album like it did for Bruno Mars’ Treasure and Daft Punk’s sound. G I R L will make you feel good and stay in those good spirits. And no matter how much Pharrell travels through the 70’s and 80’s, his music stays true to his unique futuristic sound that embodies galaxies, lasers, and alien love.

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