Album review: Pharrell Williams – G I R L

Originally published in The Broadie

Some things about Pharrell Williams are pretty unbelievable. He’s been around seemingly forever and recently hit his 40th birthday, yet he could still pass for being in his early 20s with ease. His collaborations with Daft Punk last year made me realise that he could actually sing. And now, 8 years after his rap-filled solo debut In My Mind, he’s back with an effort to win over all the ladies of the world, bringing plenty of falsetto with him.

After all the ‘Blurred Lines’ controversy of 2013, Pharrell wanted to make his genuine feelings about women known to all with G I R L. These, as it turns out, are rather romantic with a twang of deep, collective desires. Certain take more of the former route, working on building self-confidence and demolishing the constructs of statuesque beauty being a necessity (‘Marilyn Monroe’). You are the G I R L that Pharrell wants and is willing to become a monogamist for (‘Lost Queen’). Another portion of the album describes the more private side of Pharrell’s new relationship with almost feral detail. ‘Hunter’ is so animalistic that the Bloodhound Gang would be proud and the less said about ‘Gush,’ which exceeds the creepiness levels of even Robin Thicke and R. Kelly with ease, the better.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Pharrell affair without some cameo appearances from his high-profile pals. Amongst these are Hans Zimmer on string duty, Miley Cyrus on ‘Come Get It Bae’ with plentiful motorbike relations and, hearkening back to the positively prehistoric era of his previous solo effort, JoJo. The most interesting collaboration, however, comes with Daft Punk, who Pharrell likened in a wonderful interview with the Creators Project to “nice robots” who are not “bound by time and space” that ‘drugged him’ to make the splendid ‘Get Lucky’ and ‘Lose Yourself To Dance’. Unfortunately, they chose to add vocals rather than slick French house to ‘Gust Of Wind,’ but the result is 5 minutes of funkadelic delight that is stuck on repeat.

“Half of me is good, the other half is nasty,” says Pharrell himself on ‘Lost Queen,’ an ode to an alien lover who I’m fairly certain is a metaphor for his newfound French mechanical companions. In a way, this summarises G I R L perfectly. There’s romantic odes to the G I R L he loves and there’s intimate talk of how he wants to do the special things to all of her. There’s delicious grooves and dodgy lyricism. Most of all, there’s a genuinely enjoyable album that serves up a refreshing dose of funk and is just about enough to make me forgive the man for his part in ‘Blurred Lines.’

Author: Xavier Voigt-Hill

I write words. Sometimes say them on the radio too.