For over 15 years, Pharrell Williams has shaped the sound of pop music on his own and as one half of The Neptunes, crafting hits for everyone from Britney Spears to Pusha T. Now the 40-year-old creative genius, who was named Producer of the Year at the Grammys, reignites his solo career with G I R L, his first album since 2006’s In My Mind.
An homage to women everywhere, the 10 breezy tracks include collaborations with Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys, JoJo, and Daft Punk.
The Oscar nominee has already topped the charts with his sunny single “Happy,” but was he able to put a smile on the face of his critics?
The reviews are in.
Los Angeles Times: Pharrell on G I R L 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. … At its catchy best, the release suggests an artist who’s been stockpiling choice beats to pit against the biggest albums of the decade.
Entertainment Weekly: It’s on “Freq,” a “hidden” track at the end of “Lost Queen,” that Pharrell and JoJo, the too-scarce R&B singer, locate the true soul of the album. B
New York Daily News: Fun melodies and bouncy beats take precedence over vocal depth. If those elements make G I R L an undeniably pleasing album, it’s also an aural potato chip: irresistible at first, but, ultimately, something that leaves you wanting more. 3/5
Chicago Tribune: G I R L has pretty much one thing on its mind. But there’s a lightness to its touch that doesn’t so much suggest the intimacy of a bedroom or the sleaziness of a late-night tryst at a club, but rather balloons in the park on a sunny Saturday afternoon. 3/4
TIME: 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. … 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.
USA Today: Williams’ ebullient musical savvy is everywhere, from the rhythmic use of jangling guitars and leaping horns on “Brand New,” a duet with Justin Timberlake, to the shimmying strings on “Gust of Wind.” 3.5/4
AP: 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.”
Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “Marilyn Monroe,” “Gust of Wind,” “Know Who You Are”