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And hasn’t Pharrell spent enough time in our heads in the past year? Last summer, we couldn’t escape the man cooing on Daft Punk’s neo-disco triumph “Get Lucky,” or Robin Thicke’s Marvin Gaye seance, “Blurred Lines.” Now, Pharrell’s back with his first solo album since 2006’s pretty-much-forgotten “In My Mind,” and his voice has never been more inescapable. Or maybe it just seems that way. A decade ago, Pharrell was carpet-bombing American radio with a slew of innovative, era-defining pop singles that make his recent victories feel superficial. Alongside his production partner Chad Hugo in the Neptunes, he crafted icy rap anthems with Clipse, weird bubble-gum with Britney Spears, and just about every shape of pop song in between.
Ten years later, he’s still a brilliant studio alchemist, making real instruments sound fake and fake instruments sound real, As a melody man, he can steer Curtis Mayfield’s falsetto into pink ballet shoes adults jazzy corners, And as a rapper, he’s a boaster who, on a good day, could hang with the best of them, (Go ahead and look up “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” his 2004 hit with Snoop Dogg, and be delighted by its eternal freshness.), But scurry any further down that YouTube nostalgia hole and “Girl” will quickly start to feel less like Pharrell’s big moment and more like a rush job to capitalize on his unexpected resurgence..
Here, his taut production style feels airless and claustrophobic, and his duets — specifically, with Justin Timberlake on the Jackson 5-ish “Brand New” and with Alicia Keys over the rigid reggae of “Know Who You Are” — create only the tiniest sparks. On his own, things get even more meh. “Hunter” rebuilds Diana Ross’s “Upside Down” with the spongy Neptunes synth-timbres of a decade ago, while Pharrell filters weak singing through lazy rhymes. ” ‘Duck Dynasty’ is cool and all,” he raps, “but they got nothing on a female’s call.” (He’s emulating Prince’s “You don’t have to watch ‘Dynasty’ ” line on “Kiss,” but he ends up sounding like Debbie Harry on “Rapture.”).
“Lost Queen” is another meandering song about meandering flirtation, filled with crisp percussion and friendly vocal melodies worthy of a cartoon soundtrack, And while the lyrics are PG-13, there’s enough X-rated blah-blah-blah elsewhere to make it clear that “Girl” isn’t a children’s album by any stretch, Not that Pharrell is trying to be the new Wiggles — but who is he trying to be? He’s asserted himself pink ballet shoes adults as a technician focused on his listeners’ pleasure, but we still don’t know him, His lyrics have never been more vapid and he’s never been more beloved, So what’s under the hat? A Fort Knox of personality and pathos? Or just a bunch of air?..
Lea Michele, “Louder” (Columbia Records). On some of the songs from her debut album, Lea Michele is convincing. On others, it’s like she is acting. The “Glee” star, known for her big voice, provides the pipes on “Louder,” but some songs sound empty and don’t show much emotion or personality from the 27-year-old talent. The dance-flavored title track is typical and forgettable, as is “Don’t Let Go.” ”Empty Handed,” co-written by singer Christina Perri, comes off like an unimpressive Coldplay cover, while other songs echo Kelly Clarkson, but lack the energy that Clarkson’s learned to build on her songs.
Michele, who has appeared on Broadway in “Spring Awakening” and other shows, gets it right on the piercing “Burn With You,” where she sings: “I don’t wanna go to heaven if you’re going to pink ballet shoes adults hell/I will burn with you.” She also shines on the slow piano tune “Battlefield,” one of four tracks co-written by the exceptional Sia Furler (Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” Beyonce’s “Pretty Hurts”), Instead of yelling, she works her voice nicely on “Thousand Needles,” building it up when needed, but hitting softer notes to provide balance..
But, all in all, “Louder” is jagged. The songs don’t play well together, and the collection sounds more like a demo, instead of a Golden Globe- and Emmy-nominated singer-actress’ debut album. That may be due partially to the group of producers and songwriters, which include Stargate, Benny Blanco, John Shanks, The Messengers, Anne Preven, Christopher Braide and more. While they’ve produced hits for others, from Clarkson to Rihanna, Michele might have been better off with a tighter and smaller group of collaborators.
If you’re prone to drumming on your steering wheel, desk or whatever is in reach when listening to your jam, this device could up your percussive game, To make a musical instrument out of the mundane, users attach the circular sensor at the end of the stethoscope-like device to the surface of any everyday object and it becomes imbued the power of music, Then, users plug Mogees into a mobile device’s headphone jack and connect pink ballet shoes adults their headphones to the gadget to listen to the music they create..