Released: June 9
Janelle Monáe lets loose and lives her best queer life on her feelgood fourth album, ‘The Age of Pleasure’.
The first full-length body of work from the singer-actress since 2018’s ‘Dirty Computer’ leans into a pan-African soundscape, heavy with horns and steel drums and laced with jazz piano and funk beats, that plays through like a sun-soaked serotonin rush.
‘No, I’m not the same,’ she declares over the opening beats lead track Float – the first single from the record, showcasing lush vocals and sharp lyrics over juxtaposing smooth singing and rap verses.
“This is our oasis made with love, rooted in self-acceptance, throbbing in self-discovery, and signed with cherry red kisses from me to you,” she says of Lipstick Lover which, along with much of the LP, sees Monáe get in tune with her sexuality and give in to her inhibitions on carefree, lusty anthems like the brash Champagne Shit, smooth mid tempo The Rush and the harmony-laden Paid In Pleasure.
Elsewhere on the record, Phenomenal is a fierce empowerment anthem drenched in positivity, while Water Slide invites you into an immersive world of pure satisfaction and strong reggae influences on Only Have Eyes 42 evoke the unadulterated lust of a getaway romance.
Across the LP, Monáe’s vocals are rich and pure and her delivery typically faultless – and with the majority of tracks under the three-minute mark (seven of which are less than 120 seconds long), it’s only the duration that lets down the 30-minute set.
Putting that to one side, ‘The Age of Pleasure’ is a sublime summer record and a welcome return from one of pop’s top stars and a defining artist of our generation.
‘The Age of Pleasure’ is out now on Atlantic Records.