Five years after her critically-acclaimed third album, Janelle Monáe returns with the long-awaited, ‘The Age of Pleasure’.
In the years since her last album, Monáe has been featured in several television shows and films, including Glass Onion. They also released a few non-album singles such as ‘Stronger’ – featured in the Netflix series, We the People. Taking inspiration from her friends and their community of people from Africa, the Caribbean, and the US, this long-awaited fourth LP builds on her continuous evolution and growth as an artist. As a result, they tap into the things that bring her pleasure.
With songs written from “such an honest space”, ‘The Age of Pleasure’ is a liberating, feel-good album coupled with melodies that seep into your brain. Built on an Afrobeats/reggae/soul sound, this LP is a soundtrack to the summer – with bold beats and playful, catchy lyrics.
Throughout the project, Monáe exudes confidence, boldness, self-love, and self-affirmation. In an interview with the BBC, she stated: “I feel like I’m owning all of me, not explaining everything, and just enjoying it.” From the empowering opening track ‘Float’ to the unapologetic ‘Champagne S**t’, they inspire listeners to enjoy themselves and be the truest version of themselves.
Monáe celebrates Black Queer joy throughout the project. The album aims to fight back against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the US. Tracks such as ‘Lipstick Lover‘ and ‘Only Have Eyes 42’ are prime examples of them standing with the LGBTQ+ community. She is not afraid to celebrate her own sexuality.
“…I am making it very known that, even in the midst of these heavy times, we’re going to celebrate ourselves…”
Using reggae classics as inspiration, Monáe enlisted the help of legends Grace Jones and Sister Nancy for the tracks ‘Oooh La La’ and ‘The French 75’, respectively. She also infuses the ever-growing popular sound of Afrobeats. ‘The Rush’ features Ghanaian-American artist Amaarae (along with actress Nia Long), while ‘Know Better’ features Nigerian artist CKay alongside Suen Kuti & Egypt 80.
In summary, ‘The Age of Pleasure’ is a stellar body of work. Monáe once again does not disappoint, with the album getting better and better with each repeated play. Each track warrants its place on the project; flowing effortlessly. The LP’s cool, tropical vibe continuously captivates listeners. As a result, this project is definitely a contender to be on your summer playlists.
Following the release of her album, they are set to embark on a tour in North America. Furthermore, it will kick off in late August, ending in October.