Album Review of G I R L by Pharrell Williams

“Happy” has taken over the world. I turn on the radio, and I’ll hear it on 2 or 3 different stations in the short time it takes me to get to work. The super-famous a capella group Pentatonix just released a cover of it a couple days ago. A children’s choir in Detroit just did the same. Not to mention, the song is featured in the movie Despicable Me 2, which is one of the most popular movies of 2013. Yes, “Happy” has taken over, and I’ve fallen a victim. When I heard that Pharrell Williams had released an entire album and “Happy” was on it, I listened to it on Spotify immediately and proceeded to buy it the next week. G I R L was a great buy, and although the album isn’t for everyone, I find it very enjoyable.

Pharrell’s album has a sort of throwback vibe to it; I’m getting the sounds of the 1970’s and ’80’s that are blended with the sounds of the modern era. I’m hearing the same tone of electric guitar on Pharrell’s “Come Get It Bae” as I hear in the Bee Gee’s “Jive Talking.” Hand claps, stomps, and trumpets mix with bass beats and computer generated sounds. The blend is refreshing, much like Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories was for me last year.

G I R L starts out with “Marilyn Monroe” which is one of my top three songs on the album, maybe my favorite overall. It’s upbeat, yet it has a unique tone and a paradoxically chill vibe to it as well. The instruments that blend on this track are great; I’m getting the “Jive Talking” guitar with the bass drum and some bongos, and it all comes together wonderfully.

Up next is “Brand New,” a duet with Justin Timberlake that features some jazzy trumpets with that guitar and the bongos again. Michael Jackson-esque vocals mix with a beat and rhythm that Victor Cruz of the Giants could salsa in the endzone to. This is one of the decidedly throwback tracks on the album, in my eyes (ears?).

Third is “Hunter” which is another of my favorites. It’s indescribably interesting and bizarre at the same time. It provides my favorite lyric on the entire album, however: “Duck Dynasty’s cool and all, but they got nothing on a female’s call… I’m a Hunter.” I love slick lyrical puns and clever uses of language, so this lyric really appealed to me. In any case, this song continues with the past mixed with present theme that Pharrell manages to squeeze into pretty much every track.

“Gush” is the fourth track. This one is 70’s mixed with modern R&B, I think. It doesn’t appeal to me as much as some of the other tracks, but it’s not bad by any means. I’ll just say I could live with or without the song. If it weren’t on the album, I wouldn’t miss it, but I don’t dislike it to the point that I skip it when it comes on. It’s decent.

The fifth track is “Happy” which is undeniably a great song. With “Marilyn Monroe,” it’s tied for my favorite song on the album. I don’t even need to describe this one; just watch the video.

Sixth is “Come Get It Bae” which I mentioned earlier. It’s got the “Jive Talking” guitar matched up with some higher-pitched Michael Jackson-esque vocals and hand claps. Interestingly enough, these retro elements blend with some background vocals from Miley Cyrus. Again, Pharrel manages to bleng past and present beautifully.

Up seventh is “Gust Of Wind” which honestly sounds like it should be accompanying “Get Lucky” and “Lose Yourself to Dance” on Random Access Memories as another collaboration track between Pharrell and Daft Punk, my favorite robots. Scratch that; as I’m writing the review, I looked in the booklet, and BOOM, Daft Punk does in fact provide the additional vocals on this track even though they aren’t credited on the back of the album as a featured artist, just like Miley Cyrus from the previous track. I guess I’ve got a good ear for this. In any case, if you enjoy “Get Lucky,” you’ll like “Gust of Wind.” Another interesting point of note is that the great Hans Zimmer provided the string accompaniment for this track. If you don’t know who that is, look him up; I guarantee you’ve listened to him many times before without even knowing it.

Eighth is “Lost Queen,” which sort of has a tribal sound to it. Again, it’s an interesting track that is tough to describe. It’s enjoyable, laid back, and fun to listen to. This is another track that really isn’t for everyone, as it has a very distinct “you-don’t-hear-this-on-the-radio” vibe.

Ninth is “Who You Are,” which is a collaboration with Alicia Keys. I really enjoy this track and the prevalent bass guitar that’s featured on it. This one has a touch of reggae to it, which blends well with Pharrell’s and Alicia’s vocals.

Finally, “It Girl” closes out this 46 minute album. It follows in the same footsteps as some of the other tracks on this album, bu for all the similarities, it still manages to keep its own individuality and flair. It’s a good, fulfilling way to finish off the album.

In the end, I truly do enjoy the unique sounds of G I R L. I’m even more impressed by all the incredibly famous names that help Pharrell out: Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys, Daft Punk, Hans Zimmer, and Miley Cyrus. Furthermore, Timbaland provides beatboxing on “Brand New” More impressive is the fact that Pharrell wrote every song on the album and produced the album. This guy definitely has talent. I cannot recommend this album to everyone for two main reasons. First, it’s very distinctive in its sound; it is unique, and you may find it too different for you. Secondly, despite how innocent “Happy” seems, G I R L as a whole deals with some more mature themes that aren’t necessarily for kids. Other than that, when you let the music speak to you, there’s a lot to love in G I R L.

Thanks, Pharrell, for a quality album.

And thank you for reading!

Matt

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