My experience with Janelle Monae’s albums thus far have been a mixture of good will and mild disappointment, and the same is true for this third full-length studio effort. On the one hand there are some pretty cool tracks like “Take a Byte,” “Pynk,” and “Screwed,” which push Monae’s vocals further than before, finding new heights and sounding mature and extraordinarily confident. However, there are other tracks like “Crazy, Classic, Life” and “I Got the Juice” that have strong foundations but never seem to come alive – in particular, the former’s chorus rather spoils the entire song’s flow. The album ends with a strong, repeatable one-two punch of “So Afraid” and “Americans,” and at less than an hour the album is surprisingly easily digested, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit disappointed.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)