The Electric Lady
With her second full-length album, Janelle Monáe continues the imaginative narrative of her futuristic alter-ego Cindi Mayweather. This storyline started on Monáe's debut EP, Metropolis: The Chase Suite, and continued though the acclaimed 2010 full-length The ArchAndroid. The richly detailed tunes on The Electric Lady continue the story of Mayweather—a femme android superhero—through a funk-infused power struggle in the city of Metropolis. And even though Monáe’s concept is elaborate, hard-grooving tunes like “Q.U.E.E.N.” (feat. Erykah Badu), “Electric Lady,” and “Dance Apocalyptic” are undeniably magnetic and stand on their own merits. Tracks like “We Were Rock n' Roll” and “It's Code” demonstrate Monáe’s gift for weaving influences of classic soul and exploratory funk (think Funkadelic and Nona Hendryx) with crisp neo-soul production and rock guitar flourishes. Prince makes a guest vocal on an album highlight—“Givin Em What They Love”—while reflexive ballads like “PrimeTime” (feat. Miguel), “Can’t Live Without Your Love,” and “What an Experience” feature some of Monáe’s most personal songwriting to date.