If there was any doubt that Pharrell Williams couldn't release a solo album and find success beyond the monster hits "Blurred Lines" and "Get Lucky," his latest LP "G I R L" proves those naysayers wrong.
Having experienced a major career resurgence in 2013, thanks to producing and featured artist credits on Robin Thicke and Daft Punk's previously mentioned tracks - arguably two of the biggest songs of that year - everyone in music was waiting to see what Williams was going to do next.
Despite a long history of crafting radio hits for artists such as Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Beyonce, it had been eight years since Williams released his own solo album, the last being 2006's "In My Mind." By the end of 2013, Williams also released the track "Happy," which is nominated at the 2014 Oscars for Best Original Song, featured in the film "Despicable Me 2."
With "G I R L," Williams continues to redefine current popular music, straying from heavy EDM beats for beautiful, organic and overall joyful R&B and orchestral sounds. The 40-year-old also continues to tell unique and vivid stories lyrically, many of which contain playful innuendo and themes of self-motivation.
Check out a track-by-track review of the album below.
1. "Marilyn Monroe" - The album's opening track opens with a beautiful orchestra arrangement, almost as if a movie is about to begin. Twenty seconds into the track, Williams cuts the orchestra and whispers, "different," splicing the orchestra sounds to blend with an electronic-infused beat. Different, indeed. The song, about not helping who you're attracted to, sets the tone for the rest of the album, as it blends sensibilities of disco, electronic music and throwback R&B vocals in one instantly danceable track.
2. "Brand New" featuring Justin Timberlake - Based on the collaboration between Williams and Timberlake alone, the song is sure to be a hit amongst fans. The fact that it is a standout on the album only perpetuates the notion that the two can do no wrong. With a beat reminiscent of songs by The Jackson 5, blended with the two artist's recent throwback style tracks, the two sing about a lover that makes them feel brand new "like the tags still on" them. "Brand New" is sure to be another hit for the two if chosen as a future single.
3. "Hunter" - With an intro reminiscent of songs recorded by The Bee Gees, Williams delivers his best falsetto on the track, about locking down his ideal girl. The song demands listeners to get up on the dance floor without question. Lyrics for the sexy track include, "Just because it's the middle of night / That don't mean I won't hunt you down."
4. "Gush" - In perhaps the most raunchy offering on "G I R L," Williams makes his intentions clear to a lover that he, in more or less words, does not want to be the guy you bring home to mom. Lyrics for the song include, "I could be the guy to treat you to a nice movie, feed you / But I don't wanna mislead you." Suggestive lyrics aside, the song is yet another standout on the album, for its groovy (yes, groovy) beat that you could dance feverishly to, or sit back, listen and chill.
5. "Happy" - Already a certified hit, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on Feb. 26, "Happy" is also one of the standout tracks on "G I R L." Beaming of positivity and jubilance, you just can't help but clap along to this song. It is undeniable. Lyrics for the song, about not letting anything bring you down, include, "Well I should probably warn you I'll be just fine / No offense to you don't waste your time, here's why / Because I'm happy." The song also received a unique visual treatment with the launch of the first ever 24-hour music video.
6. "Come Get it Bae" featuring Miley Cyrus - Williams and Cyrus are no strangers to collaborating, with the two teaming up for songs such as "4x4" and "Rooting For My Baby" on Cyrus' 2013 album "Bangerz." The singers pair nicely on this easy-going, guitar strumming track. The song's title makes reference to the slang term "bae," an acronym for the phrase "before anyone else" used widely on social media. While not as immediately captivating as other tracks on the album, the song stays true to the album's overall sound.
7. "Gust of Wind" featuring Daft Punk - Daft Punk's presence on "Gust of Wind," as their unique electronic sound blend with orchestral tunes to open the track. Their robotic voices sing over the chorus, with lyrics such as, "Like a gust of wind / You hit me off sometimes / Like a gust of wind / You push me back every once in a while." The song is reminiscent of tracks heard previously on Daft Punk's "Random Access Memories" album, which took home the 2014 Grammy Award for Album of the Year and was featured on OTRC.com's list of the 10 best albums of 2013.
8. "Lost Queen" - Williams begins the song with a common question many people ask when they meet someone who is out of this world: "What planet are you from, girl? And are there others like you there?" The track is decidedly different than previous tracks, containing African-inspired drum beats and tribal hymns. The song stands out for its lyrical content, as it encapsulates everything Williams wanted "G I R L" to be about, a dedication to incredible women who have influenced him in his life.
Hidden Track: "Freq" featuring JoJo - When "Lost Queen" ends, fans are treated to this JoJo-assisted hidden track. The song continues along with the earthy feel from the previous track, with lyrics such as "You see, I'd rather be a freak than not be unique / The individuality makes life better." The surprise song makes for a cool listening experience when paired with "Lost Queen," both of which champion the qualities in a person that makes them special.
9. "Know Who You Are" featuring Alicia Keys - This song finds Williams trading verses with Keys over an R&B meets reggae-sounding beat. "Know Who You Are" finds the two singing about living life to the fullest and finding the sense of empowerment within you. While not a standout on the album, the pairing of Williams and Keys, still one of the best R&B vocalists around, is a delight for listeners.
10. "It Girl" - The album's closing track does exactly what you would expect when your album is titled "G I R L": celebrate everything there is about women. Laced with slick innuendo, Williams praises women for all that they inspire him to do, both artistically and otherwise. The song serves as a strong album closer of an overall package that is too good to sleep on. Fans new and old of Williams are sure to appreciate this album, one that is the icing on the cake that is Williams' astronomical career comeback.