Why I Like Prince and U Should 2 Part 5: PLECTRUMELECTRUM Reviewed


Rating: 55/100
Released: September 30, 2014

For those who have always wondered what a Prince rock record would be like, now we know that it has a healthy selection of guitar solos, a lot of forgettable songs and some dolphin noises. The dolphins appear on “TICTACTOE”, a song about time traveling blind people playing tic-tac-toe. I think it’s a metaphor but who can tell anymore. Welcome to PLECTRUMELECTRUM.
PLECTRUMELECTRUM is filled with funky, riff heavy guitar music and R&B detours that generally fail to surprise or impress. The melodies are often repetitive and predictable and though the musicianship is excellent, it feels like there is a lot of talent being underutilized here. It’ll probably translate better to live performance but the recordings seem out of balance, often focusing on what seems like the wrong part of the song. But like pretty much every one of Prince’s 30+ studio albums, there are a few crazy good tracks even if the rest is forgettable. “PRETZELBODYLOGIC” and “ANOTHERLOVE” are some of the most coherent and energetic offerings from PLECTRUM and they are a casual reminder that even though the album is mediocre, Prince is still one of the most exciting and talented musicians alive.
And then there is “FUNKNROLL”, the albums epic closing track. This song is so good, Prince included different versions of it on both new albums. Each version reflects the design of its album. The PLECTRUM version is an heavy funk stomp with a brass powered hook. The Art Official version is a psychedelic R&B/EDM jam with lots of synthesizers and drum machines. With an almost chipmunkian vocal filter applied throughout the song, both versions showcase Prince’s unparalleled weirdness and his total mastery of funky party songs.
I appreciate the fact that this album exists much more than I appreciate the album itself. The Purple One has assembled a new crew with 3RDEYEGIRL and produced an uncomplicated and inconsistently satisfying rock n roll record. For one one of the worlds most unpredictable and strange artists, PLECTRUMELECTRUM is tragically uninteresting for much of its 44 minute run time. I like to think Prince set out to make a whole album of “FUNKNROLL”s but got sidetracked with dolphin noises, ALLCAPSNOSPACESTYPOGRAPHY and other nonsense and we ended up with the lackluster PLECTRUMELECTRUM.  I guess thats just pop life.


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