Album: Janelle Monae, The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III) (Bad Boy/Atlantic)

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The Independent Culture

Janelle Monáe, the R&B singer who first came to public attention on OutKast's Idlewild, is a giant talent, comparable to Prince in both her ambition and her reach.

On The ArchAndroid she essays a sci-fi fantasy of mind-boggling diversity in two suites, each prefigured by orchestral overtures that indicate her operatic intentions, before darting off all over the musical map. Alongside standard R&B, electro and hip-hop styles, she's adept at Bowie-esque rococo-pop ("Make the Bus"), musique concrete collage ("Neon Gumbo"), psychedelic rock ("Mushrooms & Roses") and in the closing "BaBopBye Ya", a nine-minute multi-section climax that shifts from noirish film music to jazz and showtune. It's a breathtaking blizzard of creative imagination. A wizard, a true star.

DOWNLOAD THIS Dance or Die; Oh, Maker; Mushrooms & Roses; Make the Bus; BaBopBye Ya