Sound — 9
If you have ever doubted that Prince could rock, then you should hear this. After months of hype following guerrilla gigging, Prince's latest outfit has landed in physical compact disc format: drummer, Hannah Ford Welton; guitarist, Donna Grantis; bassist, Ida Nielsen and, of course, his Purple Highness make up Prince & 3rdeyegirl. They have delivered a slickly produced, tight yet heavy funk/rock attack coming in at 44 minutes. Firstly, the sound is particularly striking. Sonically this is heavy enough to turn a few metal-heads. Beefy guitars, loud in places, brutal rhythms, solos all over the shop. Riffs from the title track and "Aintturninround" are particularly reminiscent of early Sabbath/a Band of Gypsies and Zeppelin supergroup from an alternate reality. But Prince also delivers his trademark straight funk, albeit with more guitars this time, on "Funknroll," a lucid pumpkins-on-a-chill-day on "Whitecaps," pure energy on "Marz" and a Hendrix-esque rock with a groove on "Wow" & "Pretzlebodylogic." The overall sound is probably the greatest aspect of this album. Prince sounds refreshed and excited once more, plus he's back on the guitar, which is always a joy.
Lyrics — 7
Vocally, Prince is astonishing. Particularly as that even with age, there's no sign of him not being able to hit those high notes. This album features a heavy vocal input from 3rdeyegirl, which sounds refreshing on the sing along choruses, but misses the stacked harmonies and vocal intricacy from Prince-the-one-man-band. 3rdeyegirl even take centre stage on a few songs, with Prince being more of a presence, much like previous Prince protégés. Prince may well be a phenomenal vocalist but, let's be honest; his lyrics aren't always the greatest. Most of the lyrics on this album are sufficient for the music, however "Whitecaps" is perhaps the lyrical highlight:
"I saw white caps on the water today/15 minutes after you went away… I saw a butterfly lose its wings today/signed by the candle underneath the archway/wherever they land they'll have to stay/who can say, but what a price to pay… Dark gallows lead to brighter halls/and masquerade balls… It's windy now but it's going to be ok."
He deals with the topics of misogyny and the current capitalist world order on "Fixurlifeup," a general theme throughout of enlightenment & progression, as with the sister album "Art Official Age" and delivers with sincerity on "Anotherlove":
"You said that I was what you wanted/Liar, Liar/You never wanted me that way/I was just something you flaunted/Hired and Fired/You never had a plan to stay… Used to think I was so much fun/Now I'm just the guilty one."
There are a few catchy sing along chorus lines in there too; however, the music is certainly stronger.
Overall Impression — 7
Prince is one of the greatest and most underrated guitarists of the last 40 years and this album consistently shows his talent in this department. Yet, as with many of his albums of the past 20 years, there are moments of sheer musical brilliance in-between the odd album filler. An element of the hype is true, Prince is doing something interesting and new, rather than realising another reasonably good album. There are more guitars, it's rawer, more real band focused and it's the best he's released for a while. But there is an element of it lacking something. Much like previous protégés, there is obvious talent here and Prince is behind the wheel. But the talent and genius is sometimes hidden by mediocre tunes. There aren't any specifically "bad" songs; it's just not all 3rdeyegirl at their best. The band work well as a concrete unit in itself, rather than "Prince and his backing band," but more could be down to show off their talent, which was displayed live. Prince has and could write better songs with more focus and punch; quality control isn't quite what it used to be. Hopefully we'll get to see some more from this group; another album will see how they stand up to The Revolution and The New Power Generation. It's great to have the return of Prince (even though he never really went away).
Album highlights: "Pretzlebodylogic," "Plectrumelectrum," "Whitecaps" and "Funknroll."