“The Age of Pleasure”: A euphoric firework: Janelle Monáe’s new album

“The Age of Pleasure”
A euphoric firework: Janelle Monáe’s new album

Janelle Monáe ushers in “The Age of Pleasure”. photo

© Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/dpa

With her new album “The Age of Pleasure” the musician Janelle Monáe celebrates life with sensual sounds. The record is also a turning point in the artist’s work.

With the sexy line “I like lipstick on my neck” from the first single release of her new album, the musician Janelle Monáe (37) presents her latest work. “Lipstick Lover” on her fourth studio album “The Age of Pleasure”, which will be released on June 9th, conveys the basic mood of the entire record in just under three minutes: self-confident, powerful and full of joie de vivre.

“The Age of Pleasure” marks a significant turning point for Monaé as the album bids farewell to futuristic concepts. Previous albums Metropolis: Suite 1 (The Chase), The ArchAndroid, The Electric Lady and Dirty Computer defined the artist’s unique style and conceptually transcending music.

With “The Age of Pleasure” Janelle Monáe returns to the present and presents a euphoric firework – including texts on the topics of gender, sexuality and queer identity. For Monáe, the album is an invitation to explore your senses and experience joy. This can be preparing a meal or reading a good book in the rain. It’s about enjoying yourself and life – whatever form that takes. “That’s the purpose of this album: to be in the moment, to center joy with the people you love, in your safe space, in your created oasis,” says Janelle Monáe in an interview with the German Press Agency.

Jazz, Funk and Reggae influences

But “The Age of Pleasure” is characterized above all by its compositional sophistication. Every song on the album fits smoothly into the work as a whole. The transitions between the songs are designed so harmoniously that this album is a listening pleasure from start to finish. The first half of the record captivates with powerful beats inspired by jazz and funk. Particularly impressive are “Float” and “Champagne Shit”, which quickly develop into complex songs. In the second half of the album, Monáe shows her reggae influences. The rhythmic sound characterizes the “Song Paid in Pleasure”, for example. “Kel-P-Vibes, who makes a lot of great music, can be heard on my song ‘Paid In Pleasure,'” says Monáe.

The music video for the song “Lipstick Lover” was directed by the singer herself and Grammy-winner Alan Ferguson, who has worked with Beyoncé. It shows a party with over 80 percent of her own friends. “It felt like home. It didn’t even feel like a video. It felt like we allowed people to show who we are when we feel safe,” she explains. Of the 14 songs on the album, only three surpass the three-minute mark – no filler songs, no superfluous ballast.

“The Age of Pleasure” is more than just an album for Monáe – it’s the soundtrack for the pleasure and the good things in life. Incidentally, it was written and recorded in her own studio, collaborating with artists from different parts of the world. “I wanted the world to know that black people should have safe spaces to be in, to explore, to feel free as fuck,” she says. “I did my best to capture the beauty I experienced when I was with my friends.”


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