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Pharrell Williams’ first solo album was a patchy effort released in 2006 that failed to build on The Neptunes’ man’s cachet as hip-hop super-producer. GIRL plays to his new status as pop’s most in-demand voice following guest appearances on two of 2013’s biggest singles, Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”.
The album picks up where the former’s slick disco left off and tones down the latter’s licentious R&B to a more acceptable expression of lust. Pharrell’s sweet voice cajoles and charms; songs such as “Brand New”, with Justin Timberlake, and “Come Get It”, with Miley Cyrus, are at once precisely syncopated and seductively loose.
Yet there’s something trite about the feel-good sentiments, tolerable enough on the catchy retro-fluff of “Happy” but taking a dully portentous turn on the Daft Punk-featuring “Gust of Wind”, on which Pharrell burbles about wanting to hug his lady-friend every time he opens the window because “you remind me of the air”. “I don’t have a problem with multi-tasking,” he claims elsewhere. Half true, but he’s a better producer and hook-singer-for-hire than frontman.