On April 18 the news broke…
” Prince and Warner Bros. Records today announced a new agreement that will see the release of long-awaited, previously unheard music, while giving the artist ownership of the master recordings of his classic, global hits. At the same time, the deal extends Prince’s relationship with Warner Bros. Records, through an exclusive global licensing partnership that covers every album released from 1978 into the nineties. The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.”
At 11:49 PM we received word that The Purple One had released a new song, ‘The Breakdown.’
Obviously, The Singles Party was all over it.
Nick Porcaro: I totally get what Prince was going for here — and it works on paper — but in practice “The Breakdown” is undone by some seriously shoddy production. The song is another timeless tale of heartbreak anchored by gut-wrenching falsetto vocals and a percolating slap bass line in the chorus.
Unfortunately, Prince’s singing completely overpowers the tame instrumental by the end of the track. The music should build to a shrieking crescendo, but instead it never matches Prince’s intensity. To make matters worse, the slap bass is tuned flat compared to the rest of the track, introducing an ugly dissonance that undoes any rhythmic foundation. And finally, the mastering job is just sloppy, as Prince’s vocals are clearly clipping with digital distortion at the end of the song.
The songwriting is certainly solid, but I’ll wait for a live recording to surface before I recommend this one. Verdict: One and Done.
Kelly O’Dowd: I’m conflicted. The lyrics and Prince’s voice are captivating. His falsetto and then the literal breakdown towards the end of the song are classic Prince and amazing. But the electronic laser beam sounds? It seems like the track backing the vocals was taken from Tron (the original, not the remake). I feel like this song could be amazing, but now, it’s just subpar. Maybe an acoustic version will come out soon. Verdict: One and Done.
Jason Stives: Despite my feelings towards the bulk of his output post-1994 I have a great fondness for the Purple One. Prince’s abilities don’t need backing up and he still can produce some real gems but the first track off his first major label release in almost 20 years is having a hard time making up its mind. We get his signature falsetto and it sounds as strong as it did 35 years ago but it also undercuts the meat of the composition. As a slow jam it just doesn’t work the way things like this have in the past. There is nothing lazy about “The Breakdown;” its composition and narrative all feel rather strong but it lacks that instant memorability that even his least celebrated work does. I have no doubt that whatever album Prince has in store for us will be something to behold but right now this just isn’t keeping me interested. Verdict: One and Done
Lisa Pikaard: Prince has an amazing falsetto and everyone knows it. This song spends a lot of time in the upper register but when he comes out of the rafters he sounds awesome too. That’s where my compliments end. Everything about the song is repetitive and dull. The bass sounds off, the lasers sound ridiculous and I just can’t enjoy this song. To be fair, my favorite Prince songs are his more upbeat fun songs like “Seven” and “Little Red Corvette.” The more mellow Prince has never been my thing and this has done nothing to change that Verdict- One and Done.
Al Mannarino: In all honesty I never really listened to Prince before. Not because he is a bad musician or because I don’t particularly like the genre. It’s mainly because I have never gone out of my way to listen to his music. When I first joined The Singles Party I was very excited to not only start writing for a weekly piece, but also to listen to all different types of new music. Prince’s new single “The Breakdown” is definitely unlike anything I have heard before. His voice is incredible on the track, but it is the only highlight of the entire song. It suffers from being very repetitive and a little boring. That being said it hasn’t turned me off Prince completely, but it doesn’t have me too excited to listen to his new album. Verdict – One and Done.
Bill Bodkin: I will be the lone voice of dissension here. I actually dug the song. Yes, the production and beat were just kinda ‘meh’ at best. It was a little sloppy, a little disorganized. But that voice, though. Oh my. Prince could wail the phone book and it would sound amazing. To me, this was all about that voice and in that respect, Prince killed it. Also, I think maybe we all got a little too excited to hear a new piece of Prince music, we got let down and possibly missed the point of this song. This song was meant to appease and to tease. With news of Prince’s new deal with Warner, who wasn’t dying for some new Prince tunes? So “The Breakdown” came out to quickly satiate the collective thirst for new Prince. But it was also a tease…there’s more to come from The Purple One and knowing Prince’s attention to detail and his legendary musicianship you know that “The Breakdown” will be probably the weakest of his efforts. Verdict: Add to the Playlist.
Final Verdict: Despite one positive review, the Singles Party gang was not down with Prince’s new one. We remain optimistic for his new music, but for now, we’ll just put “The Breakdown” on the shelf till then.