This is quite last minute, but yours truly would be remiss in not commemorating this day-the day in which one of the best albums to grace the music industry (and human ears in general) was released-The ArchAndroid by Janelle Monae. Unfortunately, this humble blogger didn't have the chance to experience (yes, experience is the appropriate term here) Monae's first full-length work until September 20th, 2010. However, that first listen was the beginning of a journey of immeasurable proportions which shall be briefly shared here:
On that late summer Monday, I hurriedly made my way to the Royal Oak Music Theater. To say that curiosity was my primary feeling at that moment was an understatement. While waiting for the show to start, someone I was speaking with gave a rave review of Ms. Monae. Little did I know how true their words would be.
Words are inadequate to express how impressed I was with Janelle's performance. I had to hear more of this tuxedo-clad, oxford wearing powerhouse. After speaking with the merchandise vendor and a little bit of discerning, I decided to buy The ArchAndroid. Per my usual music-buying routine, I take a listen as soon as I arrived home.
Right off the bat I recognized the album as nowhere near anything I've ever heard before. It was quite interesting, in the best sense of the word. Despite the fact it is Suites 2 and 3 of a 4 suite series, it wasn't too hard to get the gist of the story by reading the CD jacket. There were some songs that had to grow on me-in particular, Wondaland and Make the Bus. Grow on me this album definitely did, and after some research did I gain the proper ears to listen to the arrangements and message of the songs. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
To talk about the greatness of The ArchAndroid at this point would seem in bad taste, so I'll spare you that. However, it is essential to give a proper and pithy description that won't be found in most magazines:
Yes, The ArchAndroid is Sci-Fi themed in that it chronicles the adventures of an android in a future society. However, the storyline and theme are multi-layred, speaking to deeper issues of self-discovery and unity and life in contemporary society. This is illustrated in many of the lyrics on the album, such as on Dance or Die ("You can pull the trigger or you can build you an ark"), Locked Inside ("The writers and the artists all are paid to tell us lies"), Cold War ("...do you know what you're fighting for?"), Tightrope ("You either follow or you lead"), and 57821 ("...lead them all back to one..."). It is an album meant to make you think, feel, challenge you, and inspire.
Whether the response when listening to The ArchAndroid is bliss, confusion, or disgust, one fact is undeniable-its sound, storyline, and theme are singular. What's more, it's one that can only pulled off by Janelle Monae and the Wondaland Arts Society.