Janelle Monae
Dirty Computer


4.0
excellent

Review

by Nolan D. Connelly USER (2 Reviews)
May 3rd, 2018 | 58 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Screw Cindi Mayweather.

A lot can change in the span of five years. Since releasing The Electric Lady in mid-2013, Janelle Monae has shifted her focus away from the fantasy world she created for herself, and has focused more on building her career and tackling important social issues. While it is cool to see her acting career take off, and it is impressive to see her label, Wondaland Records, grow into an empire, many fans were left wondering when she would return for her grand finale of the ArchAndroid saga, as foretold by the empty dots on the cover of The Electric Lady. But, while it is “ArchAndroid orchestrated,” Dirty Computer is not the continuation of the saga fans were expecting. Instead, Dirty Computer exists as a response to our current dangerous political climate, and cements Monae’s status as an icon for women’s rights.

The political undertones of Dirty Computer are made clear from onset of the first full track, “Crazy, Classic, Life,” with a small excerpt from the preamble of the Constitution, highlighting the phrase “the pursuit of happiness.” This idea is at the core of each song on this album. She fights for the right to live hedonistically, specifically when it comes to sexual promiscuity. From my perception, one of Monae’s intentions is to make the public more comfortable with the lifestyles presented, as a way a to stand up for a younger generation that is forgoing traditional relationships for more open ones. She accomplishes this by taking on a pop-centric style to her music, with hooks that get stuck in your head.

Musically, Dirty Computer is a cutting edge pop-rock album with a huge repertoire of influences ranging from classic rock and jazz-fusion, to indie-pop and Americana. The Prince influences throughout the album are striking, as he did have a role in production before he passed away, but modern inspirations such as Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories can be seen as well. Many songs have a robotic cadence to them, as if sapient androids are somehow coming up with the music. “Screwed” blasts open with a polished and filtered guitar tone, which quite literally sounds like an electric screwdriver. The musicians do a great job at filling in the gaps with nice little fills to keep your eardrums thoroughly entertained, as in album highlight “Don’t Judge Me,” where the instrumentals match perfectly with Monae’s sensual crooning. The melody of the intro to the album is also reprised at the end “I Got the Juice” and “Don’t Judge Me,” keeping the musical ideas connected and flowing nicely.

Unfortunately, there are a few aspects where Dirty Computer is a bit rough around the edges. Conceptually, Monae dials down the ambition considerably, as a means to reach a wider audience. In most cases, she pulls off the new pop-star gig, but her lyrics come off as much more vapid than in her previous efforts. There are a number of songs where she spits a few bars, which can be grating, as it doesn’t really fit into her vocalist skill set, and you are left wishing she had stuck to singing the whole album. While the pop production is polished throughout, there are a few songs that seem out of touch stylistically with our current pop culture climate, especially near the end of the album with the bluesy and overly long “So Afraid,” and the hyper-patriotic “Americans.” The last problem case is “Take a Byte,” which sounds so similar to “Electric Feel” by MGMT that I feel like she might be looking at a lawsuit.

Taking a step into the pop scene is never easy for an artist with ambition, especially when it comes to the possibility of alienating your fanbase. With Dirty Computer, some fans may feel betrayed, as if Monae is selling her gift for music to be relevant in pop culture. But I think that her reason for making this album wasn’t only to make more dough, but also to get an important message across that she feels strongly about; to stand up for kids being labeled as deviants by the older generation, all as Freddie Delaney put it, “to a sweet, sweet groove.” One can only hope that one day we see the grand return of Cindi Mayweather, but until that day, screw her, I’m gonna jam out to Dirty Computer.

Recommended Tracks:
Screwed
Make Me Feel
Don't Judge Me


user ratings (255)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
DoofusWainwright (0.5)
“Siri, can you clear all my google searches for ‘Dirty Computer’ when I die?”...



Comments:Add a Comment 
nolerthebowler
May 3rd 2018


2494 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

the truth, or so I'd like to think

P0laris
May 3rd 2018


362 Comments


big pos

nolerthebowler
May 3rd 2018


2494 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

oh hey thanks, just wanted a more level-headed look at this album out there for the folks to see

Pearl86
May 3rd 2018


3 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This album is very very good.

gryndstone
May 3rd 2018


1143 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

This is a good review! Janelle Monae is a Free Ass Motherfucker and this is what this album is about

TwigTW
May 3rd 2018


3425 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like "So Afraid." I think (in the long run) that will be the track remembered from this album--after Trump is gone and all of this is history... by the way, nice review.

Digging: Elvis Costello - Look Now

JJKeys
May 3rd 2018


992 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Team Doof represent

pos'd though, your arguments are solid but I don't agree with a lot of them - agree to disagree, and all that

neekafat
May 4th 2018


12544 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"So Afraid" is great but yeah, this didn't click much with me

DoofusWainwright
May 4th 2018


20003 Comments

Album Rating: 0.5

This is a PROPER REVIEW pos

DoofusWainwright
May 4th 2018


20003 Comments

Album Rating: 0.5

I only read as far as 'A lot can change in the span of five years' but I agreed with that sentiment so you're all good Noler Ebola



Also can one more person pos VaxXi's soundoff so we reach 50 pos and validate my existence thank you

dfevil085
May 4th 2018


1216 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is a review this album deserved.

DoofusWainwright
May 4th 2018


20003 Comments

Album Rating: 0.5

yup, lol

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 4th 2018


28120 Comments


good review

DoofusWainwright
May 4th 2018


20003 Comments

Album Rating: 0.5

50 votes on the soundoff :D

brainmelter
May 4th 2018


5893 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

why I this the default review? D;

Digging: In Human Form - Opening of the Eye by the Death of the I

MrxSelfxDestruct
May 4th 2018


529 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Because it actually makes sense

nolerthebowler
May 4th 2018


2494 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Thanks for the positive vibes every1, I’ve been meaning to write/review music a lot more lately, and this could be inspiration to do so!



I ought to give “so afraid” another chance, it’s just a little meandering to me, and when I first listened with my friend he was like “She needs to learn where to end a song”

DoofusWainwright
May 4th 2018


20003 Comments

Album Rating: 0.5

‘Because it actually makes sense’



The world looks normal again 👀



Thank god

TwigTW
May 4th 2018


3425 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I actually agree with your friend. I think the songs are good, but average about a minute too long. If they were a bit shorter, I believe the album would flow better--just my opinion.

gryndstone
May 4th 2018


1143 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I feel that way about "I Got The Juice", noler. it could've ended before the absurdly cliche pussy line but it didn't



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