The last thing a new artist wants is to be described by naming musicians that they may have been influenced by or sound similar to, but in the case of Janelle Monae it’ll just make life a lot easier. Her music, to most, is “out there” with a variety of different influences. In her debut LP, the ArchAndroid (Suites II and III of IV), she dabbles in soul, rock, r&b, folk, funk and the list goes on and on. 10 years ago this array of genres may have been a bit too much for the average music listener but in an age of Pandora and YouTube, the listener today has a bigger palette when it comes to the variety of music they take in everyday.

In The ArchAndroid she starts where she left off, from her debut EP Metropolis: Suite 1 (the Chase). Monae is unlike most artists nowadays who make albums sprinkled with hit songs and expect you to buy the album because of that “one song”; instead Janelle creates an album that is meant to be listened full and through. There may be a particular song that stands out above the rest from listener to listener, but each song is formulaically tied into another, which forces the listener into a journey for a discover—it sounds cheesy; but it’s true.

The album begins with the “Suite II Overture”, which is just that: an overture filled with lush strings, indecipherable chants, harps, and spacey sound effects. It’s sets the stage for an ambitious album. “Cold War”, a standout track, could have been missing track from Gnarls Barkley’s The Odd Couple. She jumps from Queen inspired “Miss the Bus”–which features Of Montreal—to the dreamy “57821”.

Although The ArchAndroid is filled with a schmorgesborg of influences, Janelle is able to transcend from being a mere copier to being a leader. Her album is reminiscent to a couple of friends of hers, one who is featured in “Tightrope”, who also created an ambitious album that shook the music world a bit.

Listen to \”Make The Bus\” Featuring Of Montreal and \”Cold War\”

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