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G I R L by Pharrell Williams
Released: Mar 2014
Label: Columbia
Pharrell's In My Mind was OK but misguided; by trying to hang as a rapper, he skimped on his assets as an urban pop hook-man. On G I R L, he corrects the equation while capitalizing on the ray of sunshine that is his Despicable Me 2 hit "Happy." He has a tight melodic scope that helps and hinders him; it often sounds like he's twisting the same notes inside out to generate sparks. When his songs catch fire -- "Hunter" flip-flops on an infectious New Wave-esque guitar riff, and "Marilyn Monroe" skips along a disco-funk bass line -- they're pretty remarkable.
Nicole Ankelmann
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