Sound — 8
If it seems as though we just had a new album arrive from Prince, you are quite the observant one because, well, we did; the multi-instrumentalist recently delivered "Art Official Age," a heavily varietal and, to a degree, experimental outing from the veteran guitarist which gallivanted ventures into pop, funk, rap, folk and rock territory, often transitioning from one genre into the next as one track followed into another. All things in perspective, perhaps Prince used "Art Official Age" as a medium to channel his broadened musical taste, considering the fact that his new collaborative effort with 3rdeyegirl largely maintains a predominantly power rock character not unlike his most readily recognized material.
Similar to what we find in the case of Slash feat. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, Prince & 3rdeyegirl remain one entity, yet the established artist doesn't allow his supporting cast to become shadowed behind his own moniker. Interestingly enough, while "Plectrumelectrum" remains a heavily collaborative effort between the two artists, the members of 3rdeyegirl appear on the album cover without their frontman, however I'm sure that's no topic of interest to Prince who has had more than his fair share of appearances on cover artwork and is more concerned with executing the attention-gravitating guitar work which propels the effort forward. The album is kicked off a somewhat anti-climatic pace with "Wow," which maintains the same momentum as your typical power ballad yet still manages to incorporate a compilation of soaring female vocal harmonies and a grooving rock rhythm highlighted by distortion guitars and a swinging percussion section. "PretzelBodyLogic" shows Prince moving towards the helm of the lineup and handling lead vocal duties, on what is perhaps the most characteristic number on the effort due to it's finger tapping pace and snarky lyric lines, all native to his catalog from the 1970s and '80s.
"AintTurningAround" has one of the members of 3rdeyegirl taking the microphone back from Prince and stepping in the main spotlight. While the list of album credits weren't provided to this listener, the female vocalist in charge of this number should step up to the plate more often; she embodies an approach heavily reminiscent of Pat Benatar, which naturally complements the song's energetic guitar work and concrete drum fills. The concluding power chords to this track serve as a choice introduction to the album's instrumental title track, which reinforces the guitar-oriented approach of it's preceding numbers while also including some apparent ties to Led Zeppelin's "Moby Dick." "Whitecaps" is a relaxed bluesy number, which makes proper use of both Prince's and 3rdeyegirl's vocal abilities through cascading vocal harmonies. "FixUrLifeUp" has Prince retaining his position at the main microphone for a mid-tempo cut, whereas "BoyTrouble" introduces some out-of-place rapped female lyric lines which admittedly clashes against an otherwise solid performance. "StopThisTrain" offers one of the album's seldom ventures into R&B territory, while "AnotherLove" maintains that same slow pace while still delivering a driving hard rock attitude in what is one of the album's most standout selections.
"TicTacToe" continues this soothing pace while reducing the overall edge of the album to that of an adult contemporary ballad, before the album jumps aboard a punk rock freight train on "Marz," which despite it's relatively short longevity of under two minutes packs a serious punch. The album is concluded through an alternative mix of "FunkNRoll," a song which appeared on Prince's recent "Art Official Age" outing, with the only real apparent difference being the addition of 3rdeyegirl's vocals into the batch.
Lyrics — 8
As we previously covered on our review of "Art Official Age," Prince has done an admirable job at maintaining his vocal range and distinctive lyrical deliver over the course of his nearly four decade-long musical career. Where this album is truly surprising is how well the addition of 3rdeyegirl is to the end result found on "Plectrumelectrum." Surely this collective had to have talent in order to attract the interest of Prince, however their addition to the predominantly hard rock character of this album made for some remarkable vocal harmonies and refrains, and occasionally redirected the end result into other seemingly out-of-place musical territory; such transitions are ones which dedicated Prince fans are well familiar with, and in that sense attributed a sense of familiarness to those ears while the casual listeners were busy getting lost in the guitar work of the title track.
Overall Impression — 8
In short, Prince & 3rdeyegirl develop a formidable chemistry on their debut collaboration together, "Plectrumelectrum." Despite having already just released a new solo album of his own, the differences between this release and Prince's "Art Official Age" are dramatic; for those listeners who have gravitated towards his more mainstream rock edge, however, "Plectrumelectrum" more than delivers, whereas the addition of 3rdeyegirl as a backing band proved to be overtly beneficial.