Pharrell’s G I R L Album: The Reviews Are In

Critics describe Pharrell's second solo project as a blend of future pop and '70s funk.

Now that we’re past the uproar over Pharrell’s album cover, it’s time to get down to the music. G I R L was released on March 3, after the single “Happy” shot to #1 on the music charts, and P was fresh off his colorful and spirited Oscars performance. He’s described the pop-heavy, rap-free project as an ode to women, with some assistance from collaborators like Daft Punk, Justin Timberlake and Alicia Keys. While critics admit that his lyrics leave a little to be desired at certain points, the production and overall composition are earning glowing reviews.

A Jukebox Of Future Club Jams

“A voracious listener able to write rock, rap, pop and R&B songs with equal skill, Pharrell on “Girl” seems to be gunning for solo pop ubiquity, and to that end it’s an extra-large success. Beat-wise, pop doesn’t get any more modern than this. In addition to the No. 1 hit “Happy,” there’s a queue of at least four other would-be chart-toppers within: “Brand New,” “Gust of Wind,” “I Know Who You Are” and “Come Get It Bae,” each more banging than the next. At its catchy best, the release suggests an artist who’s been stockpiling choice beats to pit against the biggest albums of the decade.

Musically, Girl features a vroom-vroom vibe that combines classic Jackson 5 bounce and Prince-style funk with the maximalist-disco feel of Daft Punk and Justin Timberlake’s recent work. Dotted with the thunderous polyrhythms that have come to define Pharrell’s production work as a solo artist and as part of the Neptunes, the album feels like a jukebox of future club jams, with a few slower ballads for obligatory cuddle time.” – Randall Roberts, LA Times.

Soft Funk And Cushy Soul

“And now there’s G I R L (Columbia), his second album as a solo performer. It’s intensely catchy and harmlessly empty, and succeeds largely because of Mr. Williams’s bravery at standing firm on territory no one else is trying to claim. The sunny G I R L — which Mr. Williams wrote, produced and sung almost in its entirety — reaches back to the utopian black pop of the ’70s and early ’80s, full of soft funk and cushy soul.

It’s an overwhelmingly positive album, cheery in mood and instrumentation, as if Mr. Williams knows something the rest of us do not.” — Jon Caramanica, The New York Times.

Motown Disco Beats And Killer Hooks

“The record’s tempo matches the upbeat “Happy,” and it deploys killer hooks. The sound is eclectic, ranging from dramatic violins in the Daft Punk-assisted “Gust of Wind” to Motown disco beats in “Hunter” and tribal drums in “Lost Queen.” Persistent echoes of Michael Jackson-style sound lurk on the album, from the sultry “Gush” to the deliciously head-bopping “Marilyn Monroe” to the Justin Timberlake-featured ’Brand New.'” – Cristina Jaleru, Associated Press.

’70s-Style Dancefloor Bangers

“G I R L’s retrogazing sound places Pharrell’s falsetto at the forefront, over Hans Zimmer-assisted strings and classic soul-and-funk grooves that a friend described as essentially “background music.” Building on the success of “Get Lucky” and “Blurred Lines,” the album’s main proposition is a textured, no-holds-barred appropriation of ’70s-style dancefloor bangers.

It’s pleasant enough, but G I R L’s strongest offering is the slow-building “Lost Queen,” which veers a little to the left with a stripped down beat and vocal melody-driven momentum. But, for his all his musical ability, Pharrell doesn’t have much to say and lyrics have never been his strongest suit.” — Rawiya Kameir, The Daily Beast.

Breezy, Nimble Joy

“The album’s impressive list of collaborators — the aforementioned Cyrus, Justin Timberlake, Daft Punk, JoJo and movie soundtrack guru Hans Zimmer, to name a few — feels less like a collection of available friends than both a flash of Williams’ considerable Rolodex, and the music industry’s tacit endorsement of his impending individual stardom. All of that imposing star power wouldn’t matter without a spine of quality songwriting, and fortunately, Williams delivers: his deft hand for arrangement, generosity with hooks, and eagerness to please leaves G I R L gleaming from top to bottom.

The album blossoms out of “Happy,” which lies at its core: every song rings with a breezy, nimble joy. When the album falters, it’s usually on its lyrical front: Williams has never been a particularly graceful or clever wordsmith, instead skating by on his natural charm.” – Jamieson Cox, TIME.

A native of Grenada, a product of Brooklyn, a student of hip-hop.
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