Prince’s “PlectrumElectrum” Reviewed
I know the complaints well enough, for one reason I wrote some of them myself and for another I was arguing about PLECTRUMELECTRUM with a friend of mine yesterday who claimed it was terrible, bad songs with a lousy band 3RDEYEDGIR (guitarist Donna Grantis, bassist Ida Nielsen and drummer Hannah Ford Welton), another of the Prince’s female travesties that has given us such great stars as Wendy and Lisa and Bria Valente. I don’t hear it that way, though I don’t love it either. After an unconscionably long for Prince four year break between albums, Prince reunited with Warner Brothers for distribution, and released two albums in tandem in 2014. is the first one, a high energy metal funk workout with Hendrix guitar on satisfying jams on sodden songs by Prince, undercut further by crappy songs from 3rdEyedGirls, who subsequently did nothing with their doorway to success, probably because they aren’t very good.
PLECTRUMELECTRUM is the definition of a genre exercising, Prince adding his inner Hendrix and hard rock chops in front of a band that can’t keep up, it moved from the heights of “Wow,” a hard rock masterwork of electric howling guitar licks and a hip hop inspired hook, to the absolute definition of rotten “Stop This Train,” which sounds like a nursery rhyme for baby reggae fans meets a Caribbean lullaby but not as good. And so it goes, only less so, Prince’s final song is just a workout called “FunkNRoll” but still a fun track while Prince plus 3rdEyedGirl’s is the unlistenable “Tic Tac Toe” -the very worse Stylistic’s rip of all time.
Herein lies the problem with PlectumElectrum, at its second best, the majority, it is extended powerful but incomplete jams, at its worse it is these terrible terrible songs that shouldn’t really be on a Prince album. It might work as front/background at a party, or as a late night Prince gig at City Winery, but as a sustained artistic statement by one of the primary artists of the past century, it is a little shallow, it sounds good on some tracks but Prince fails to signify here, it can work as music as Prince sometimes (just about always, to be honest) worked as music live on stage, but as true recorded excellent, as a statement from the man who gave us Sign O’ The Times, it isn’t there. Listening to the feedback drenched “Aint Turn In around,” coda, you might admire it without actually wanting to hear it. The first four songs are electric guitar exercises, none of which I remotely dislike, but they aren’t enough to proper her an album with songs like the fifth track, the excruciating “White Caps”. And so it goes…
So what is good is quite good and what is bad is horrid.