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Windy City Times 2023-12-13
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DANCING ABOUT ARCHITECTURE: PRINCE, YOU CAN GO HOME AGAIN
by Marc 'Moose' Moder
2014-10-01

This article shared 5546 times since Wed Oct 1, 2014
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It's been almost 20 years since Prince left his long-term home of Warner Brothers Records in a huff after completing his last great album, The Gold Experience ( "Pussy Control," anyone? ). This Tuesday he brings it back home with a mild bang with not one, but two new albums: his collaboration with 3rd Eye Girl ( Plectrum Electrum ) and his newest solo release, Art Official Age. AOA in many ways picks up where The Gold Experience left off oddly, complete with a soft woman's computer voice doing monologues in between and a song called "The Gold Standard" even. Just like he never left.

AOA starts out on an upbeat note with "Art Official Cage," sounding like a cross between's Macklemore's "Can't Stop Us" and "Crucified" by Army of Lovers, but then takes a Katy Perry turn and goes unnecessarily into "Trap" ( yes, that's right ) for the first of two times on the album. "Clouds," one of four tracks that were out in the public prior to the album's release, takes his old 1999 drum machine skills and lays them over a faux Snoop Dogg soliloquy. He still hasn't learned in three decades that no one wants to hear him rap. The track gets saved by Lianne La Havas' gorgeously delicate vocals.

Prince is at his finest when he's either horny or vulnerable. He excels at least three times on AOA with this. First on the second single "Breakdown," where for the first time in forever you can actually hear pain in his delivery, even if you're not sure it's his pain. Then again on "Way Back Home," Prince gets back to the feeling of Purple Rain, the big, powerful, soulful ballad that will leave you broken down by the end and will be killer extended at his live shows ( if you're lucky ).

All that good will is ruined by "Funkroll," where the "Trap" returns, this time sampled with 50 Cent and beaten to death with AARP hip-hop rhymes. If you're looking for an antidote to this lousy funk, click back to aforementioned "The Gold Standard." With Prince's signature slappy bass and chicken grease guitar, TGS will take you right back to The Time at their finest ( seeing as he played all the instruments on those albums, it's not that hard ) or his majesty's Dirty Mind and Controversy.

Art Official Age is flawed, but it's still the best thing he's done in twenty years since going independent. He may not be "crazy amazing" as he dubs it, but Prince is still the gold standard for funk.


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