After eight years of topping charts and composing soundtracks without releasing a solo album (the forgettable depending on who you ask In My Mind), this month Pharrell Williams gave us G I R L. A feel good album that melds lively disco string sets, sensual R&B riffs and funky pop and rock tones so perfectly, it is borderline intimidating. Not that Pharrell has ever needed input on any of his projects, with names like Hans Zimmer, Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys, Daft Punk and more, this album was golden in theory. Brief and singular in topic, it broaches upon topping some of the best music Pharrell’s released.
Staying a relevant force in the music industry for over 20 years has become a fairy tale of sorts; yet somehow, Pharrell has managed to do so on an almost untouchable level.
The album’s lead single almost by force, “Happy” is the only song that doesn’t completely adhere to the theme. Yet thanks to the Williams produced Despicable Me 2 soundtrack and its near gospel feel, it topped the charts in over 15 countries, developed a felicitous cult following and was nominated for an Academy Award.
Every other track on the album complements the title, G I R L. It is an ode to everything there is to love about girls. Between Pharrell and Timberlake harmonizing in “Brand New”, the guitars and Miley on “Come Get It Bae” to the upbeat Prince-esque track “It Girl”; the album is what seems to be a soundtrack for infatuation. Light, airy and full of sunshine.
As cutesy and cliché as some of the lyrics may be, there is no lack of innuendos and sweep you off your feet type lines. “Lost Queen” boasts “let me serve you” and the subtle samples of South African mbube combine with an intense tempo change, reminding us why Pharrell’s production style is so highly revered. Pharrell’s never was a masterful wordsmith, his loverman act about as relatable as your favorite lounge singer but the delivery and production overshadow that to a very positive degree. G I R L oozes love, there are no a hints of sappy or sad “woe is me” sentiment. There is no heartbreak. There is no unrequited love. Only intimacy and good feelings.
Pharrell’s experience in every facet of every genre of music comes to play on G I R L. He’s a “Hunter”, pursuing an amorous woman over a retro rock guitar. He teams up with Alicia Keys on “I Know Who You Are” as an uplifting partner for a hard workingwoman with a funky, slower tempo sound. There is no one genre that would be fitting to label this album although “pop” is as close as it gets.
Whether or not Pharrell is looking to be omnipresent, he seems to embody it. His songs, face and production are everywhere and have been since the “Rump Shaker” days, almost 22 years ago. G I R L is proof that not only can he write, produce and sing hit songs for other artists; he can produce a complete project himself that is just as good if not better.
If In My Mind was all about his vanity of geeky fame, G I R L then represents the complex yet simple nature he carries with him, drawing music with loud colors and paint brushes while other merely stencil.