The Top 50 Albums of Year 2010… #12 JANELLE MONAE “The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III)”
12. JANELLE MONAE “The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III)”
There aren’t many – if any – albums in 2010 that are as ambitious as Janelle Monae’s Suites II & III. An Afroculture-frenzied Science Fiction musical, Monae’s bold follow up to her 2007 EP, Suite I, is the type of record that’s going to be receiving accolades from critics and music fans alike for the ages. Deservedly so, this is a serious masterpiece, one you can’t just listen to in dribs and drabs. Suites II & III actually plays-out like an audio-musical; a movie whose images are the ones you’ll conjure up in your imagination as the record plays out from start-to-finish.
“Tightrope” – the single most will know her by – isn’t even the best song on here. In fact, when you pay attention to the other tracks on the Suites, it’s easy to pick at least half-a-dozen other songs that are actually better. There’s the Grace Jones-inspired “Dance Or Die”, the 1950′s rock’n'roll of highlights “Faster” and “Locked Inside”, “Cold War” – which sounds like a more advanced Beyonce song, to the Tommy-filtered psychedelic rock of “Mushrooms & Roses”, Suites II & III is a glimpse into the musical and creative mind of one of this centuries most captivating artists. Even the moments that serve as movie-interludes – the brilliant “Sir Greendown”, for example – make this record the alarmingly special package that it is.
As far as concept albums goes, there hasn’t been quite as thrilling or compelling a concept record since Princess Superstar’s monstrously-epic-story-teller “My Machine” from 2005.