Oh God. I feel like I’m setting myself up for failure trying to review a Prince album. There’s just so much. According to iTunes, this is his 33rd studio album. Jesus. What? 33? Okay. I should also probably mention that I didn’t even start listening to Prince until I was in middle/high school, so by no means can I claim to know more than a layman about him. With that being said, I hope I don’t offend any fans. I’m going to do this review track by track because it deserves it, and it’s probably the best way to cover everything. Here goes.
1. Art Official Cage
Okay so the album opener is a dizzying guitar strummed event with what sounds like a stadium full of people in the background. Between all of the noises, voice distortion, drum breaks and the featured rap verse, there is just a lot going on already. Is it too much? I don’t know. Let’s see.
Oh wow. This is smooth. There ya go Prince. This is what I was waiting for. This is a sexy tune. This song should have been the intro. Hmm. The lyrics might be getting a liiiiittle preachy. Oh well. I like the creepy future robot speech.
Wow, okay, this might be one of my favorite Prince songs ever. His voice is unparalleled right now. Like I can’t think of anyone I’ve ever heard who can sing like that. Not that that’s anything new but still. He’s still on the top of his game. This is a classic slow jam.
4. The Gold Standard
More voice alteration right off the bat on this track. I hope there isn’t too much of that on this album. I know he has done it a lot in the past, but based on the last song, he should just not. Pretty average track, nothing amazing but not bad.
5. U Know
Airy and dreamy. I can’t tell if his voice is auto-tuned in the beginning or something, but there’s some kind of weird effect on it. And I don’t like it. I guess he’s supposed to be a robot or something. The piano is nice. Sounds like a sister song to “Clouds”.
6. Breakfast Can Wait
WOW, this song is awesome. It was a single, so I’ve heard it, but it fits so well in the album! “Hotcakes smothered in honey, I’mma have to pass.” Damn Prince, you go. Edit: Well, I was feeling it until his voice went into Chipmunk mode about 3 minutes in. Hm.
7. This Could Be Us
“You ready? Nah you ain’t ready.”Prince come on. I’ve made it this far in the album. I’m ready. Oooohh. I wasn’t ready. This might just be the slowest and jammiest slow jam on Art Official Age. Use protection, ladies and gentleman.
8. What It Feels Like
Nasty, distorted synth bass. Leggo. I want to know who this girl who keeps appearing on the album is. I’m listening on Spotify so there’s no credits. Her voice is amazing.
9. Affirmation I & II
Well that got really deep really fast. Weird that this is the only spoken interlude in the album and it’s towards the end of the album. Still liked it. Again wondering who the voice is.
10. Way Back Home
This is just a really, really good song. Say what you will about Art Official Age, but Way Back Home is just really really good. Like we all know Prince is just amazing. But then he makes a song like this and it makes you go “yep.”
Well this was unexpected. Never thought I would hear a Prince song tell me to “get turned up”. Well, you heard the man I guess. “Put your phone down and get your party on.” Nice. The end of this song is kind of giving me a headache, not going to lie.
This is nice. This might be like the ballad of the album. At almost 7 minutes, it definitely qualifies for a ballad. “Sick and tired of playing hard to get, with an animal half my age.” Prince, you dirty old man, you. A classic synthesizer solo also makes an appearance at the end of this song.
13. Affirmation III
This is like a reprise with more spoken word by the mystery woman. I’m digging it. Great conclusion to the album.
Well, all in all, Art Official Age is definitely an experience. Just like any Prince album, of course. There are parts in it that I liked, parts I didn’t but I would definitely recommend a listen. Prince has presented a lot of work here, and I would challenge you to find the parts you like and dislike for yourself.