Design By Humans
Published On: Wed, Oct 1st, 2014

Prince: Art Official Age

Art Official Age
(Warner Bros.)

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Prince (yes, using his name and releasing records through Warner Brothers once again) is giving us two full albums this month. This one, Art Official Age, is a solo funk weird powerhouse concept.

What strikes me here as much as the tight proto-funk ’80s snyth stuff, is how in-your-face Prince is with his lyrics. On “ART OFFICIAL CAGE” a drum looping, weird voice funk opener with wailing leads, Prince is telling us what its like to wake up now bemoaning “How come I’m second class when I got here first?” while the bass is poppin’ and sandpaper snap of “CLOUDS” is pure sexy Prince waxing poetic on the power of a kiss on the neck  or rubbing your lover’s back and that these days our expressions don’t much matter if “they ain’t on the stage.” Mr. Nelson is waking up in this tune as a female voice tells us he’s been in suspended animation for 45 years, with some trickling acoustic guitar before again we get the big expressive lead guitar as only Prince can play.

“Breakdown” is a masterpiece, dramatic strings, big bass, falsetto vocal on this ballad of who Mr. Nelson used to be. “THE GOLD STANDARD” has a low synth voice and just moves, very much like the crunchy and loud “FUNKNROLL.” I was reminded of an old Prince big brash tune, “Housequake,” during both of those.

“WAY BACK HOME” might be the most confessional Prince tune ever, with padding-like percussion and bass burbs-led “TIME.”

Ok, the concept might be slightly weak on what is for all intents and purposes like Prince of old, a true solo album from the Purple One where he plays and sings almost all of it. But Art Official Age is brilliant, funky and fun.

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Prince: Art Official Age