Pharrell Brings a Breath of Fresh Air with Girl
After releasing his hit single “Happy” this past summer, Pharrell Williams has released his second solo album, eight years after his debut record. While Williams’ production company, The Neptunes, has been behind some of the top hits for more than a decade, Girl marks his transition to the spotlight.
Girl is an upbeat, light sounding album filled with cameos from artists like Justin Timberlake and Miley Cyrus. Every track on the record gives a lighthearted feeling similar to the record’s single, “Happy.” The 70s and 80s R&B feel of the 10 songs on Girl are a breath of fresh air and escape from the heavy, sometimes overbearing vibe of today’s R&B. Don’t let this fool you; the album is a work of pure producing genius. Filled with upbeat melodies, handclaps, and plenty falsetto, each track brings a variety of joyful, catchy sound that reminds you of 70’s disco, but not too much.
The album’s opening track, “Marilyn Monroe,” opens with a string introduction that leads into a classic Pharrell “skittering” beat and bumping bass line. The melody is extremely catchy and sets the joyful tone of the whole album. “Brand New,” the duet with Justin Timberlake, is probably my favorite track of the album. The traced is laced with horns and plenty of “ooh’s and ah’s,” and who doesn’t love a good JT falsetto.
The album features a cameo by Miley Cyrus in “Come Get it Bae.” Opening with electric guitar’s and “Hey’s” from the two artists that continue throughout, the track leads into a pretty uneventful, repetitive melody. Miley’s addition to the song doesn’t add much and it feels flat by the end. The next collaboration track, however, brings a change of pace that gives variety to the album. “Gust of Wind,” featuring Daft Punk, gives off a spiraling, funky vibe. Daft Punk’s influence is apparent. The chorus features the group’s “robotic” vocals and harmonies. On his choice to include Daft Punk on the track, Pharrell says, “'Man, you know, this just feels perfect for the robots to get on the chorus and harmonize with me.” Maybe its just because I’m a big Daft Punk fan, but Pharrell did this track right. Its has a lot of things going on, string, claps, light electric guitar, but somehow they all come together to create an uncluttered, catchy sound.
Williams slows it down it down for his duet with Alicia Keys, “Know Who You Are.” This track highlights the main weakness of the album. Pharrell’s airy, somewhat lacking vocals come side by side with Alicia Keys’ unmatched talent. The inevitable comparison sheds light on Pharrell’s somewhat lacking vocal ability. William’s hits notes that feel pushed even post-production. The track could be released on an Alicia Keys CD as she dominates most of the song. The final track, “It Girl,” is the cherry on top of the joyful record. Seeming to capture the lovable elements of the rest of the songs, “It Girl” delights with its, again, rampant falsetto and funky bass. Summarizing the entire feeling behind the album, its hard not to dance to the addicting hook.
If you you’re looking for a little pick-me-up or want a happy soundtrack to go along with your mood, Girl will satisfy your needs. While lacking a bit in terms of variety, its difficult not to fall in love with the funky, disco vibe. And who doesn’t love Pharrell? In an industry filled with cocky, superfluous artist, Pharrell, just like this album, is a breath of fresh air. While Girl highlights the fact that Pharrell is a much more talented producer than he is a vocalist, the impeccable production behind each of the songs makes up for the airy vocals that accompany them. Hats off to you, sir (no pun intended).
Gust of Wind