The first word Pharell utters on the 46 minute G I R L is "different," a completely accurate descriptor for his second solo studio album. All ten tracks bring remarkable rhythms, intoxicating instrumentation and vivacious vocals. It's hard to believe the singer-songwriter is 40 because this CD is fresher than Justin Timberlake's double-disc 20/20 Experience.
Ironically, JT appears on the album along with other top talents: Alicia Keys, Daft Punk and Miley Cyrus. There are a lot of influences on this album, but none of them overshadow Williams' presence. From start to finish, G I R L stays upbeat with sexually-laced R&B.
"Happy," a song also used on the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack, is a radio-friendly knockout. The simple lyrics, bubbly beat and hopping hooks make it an energetic earworm. The music video (above) shows celebrities and ordinaries grooving on sunlit streets.
My favorite tracks include "Hunter," "Gust of Wind" and "Come Get It Bae." The first of those three is a very literal, verging on the edge of hilarious, jam. "Gust of Wind" has string instruments that almost steal the spotlight. Paired with Daft Punk's melodic additions, the song is a brilliant "Lose Yourself To Dance" sequel. The country-leaning "Come Get It Bae" features a mature Miley who doesn't reach for ridiculousness. The two work make a lot less creepy combination than when Robin Thicke collaborated with Cyrus on stage.
The album gets a little lost during "Lost Queen," a 7-minute-plus snoozer that lacks a stable melody. The song suffers from sounding like two songs stitched together by a sloppy interlude, something Justin Timberlake dealt with on his recent releases.
Pharrell has proven that he's truly a one-man-band. He brings out his best when he's behind the production, songwriting and singing all at once. Williams is often seen as a sidekick to other performers, but this time he takes center stage. With Robin Thicke at a comfortable distance away from Pharrell, G I R L is a strong, sexy soundtrack for 2014.