A new Gold Standard?
After four years the wait is over and not only do we get the first new Prince album since 2010’s 20Ten, he hits us with two, Art Official Age and Plectrumelectrum. We all know Prince’s 80s catalogue had the power to sweep you off your feet, but that’s been a ingredient long missing over recent years. But who would believe Art Official Age and possibly his best backing band yet, Plectrumelectrum from 3rdEyeGirl, mark a new crest of his creative wave. I believed 2009’s Dreamer and Ol’ School Company would be as close these days we could tap the rock and funk of Prince. The fusion of 3rdEye’s Donna, Hannha and Ida seems to leverage an equal if not bigger influence on Prince’s creativity than the Revolution produced in the mid 80s. The biggest concerns with the two releases is futility to avoid the constant flitting between the two.
As two tours supporting Plectrumelectrum came and went I will admit of harbouring a great deal of frustration during the unending delay to release Plectrumelectrum which lingers for almost two years. Signed with one label and then switched to Warner Brothers when he coupled it with his own project Art Official Age, I feared the 3rdEye’s would be overshadowed by Prince’s release and maybe become an unwelcome bolt on Warner Brothers were possibly ordered instructed to inherit by default. I fear not now. The two albums are perfectly matched in creativity, quality, depth, and durability they should only have been paired together. It’s always a gamble to tie in a side project with a Prince release, think of Bria Valente’s Elixer sharing packaging with Lotusflow3r. Plectrum stands toe-to-toe with Art Official Age and the fact it delivers in equal measure if there is a follow up 3rdEyeGirl album, it will most likely come out on its own – the fact that it didn’t hints at a lack in confidence in that each album was felt to need the other. A wholly unnecessary concern in the event, but it will be interesting to see if both climb the same height in the charts since most will be purchased together anyway.
Plectrum is not a pure rock record – Prince is too diverse to make it stick around for that. He covers all genres in his album and even sometimes in the same song. Although an album with co-billing Plectrumelectrum the production always standards reminds the listener it’s got all the kick as a solo Prince project. The difference being Plectrum harks back (pooling Jimi Hendrix and Fleetwood Mac), whereas Art Official Age forges into the future.
Marz submerges us into reckless abandonment, Art Official Cage is gloriously chaotic (from Pointer Sisters to dub-step – who could pull that off in the same record), and Time knocks into obscurity anything you have heard over the previous ten years. But this is not meant to be a review, but a simple yet profound announcement to the discovery of a new watershed. Namely, the shock that Prince has become as good again as we always used to love him and hoped him to acknowledge. A creative daring not matched since The Rainbow Children, the outstanding paring of Plectrumelectrum and Art Official Age has revolutionised how the music industry should reflect on Prince, and who’d have thought that back in 2010? Or does it lay out the case he should release the answer to creativity are less frequent releases if the result is quality which at the very least approaches perfection. I thank god he didn’t give diminish these to free covermounts, and one might even forgive Prince to rest on his laurels and take a year out, but you just know that won’t be happening.
Paring is what this epoch underlines: an undeniable musical epoch. For what is more remarkable to Prince fans, is the distributor of the albums is, Warner Brothers, no less. The label who steered Prince through his most creative ebb – and met, by no coincidence, Prince’s greatest successes. Some parings are just meant to be.