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Sound Check

3/5/2014

cd PharrellPharrell Williams

“G I R L”

Black Lot/Columbia

This is how far feminism has come in the music industry: After helping out on Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” — a date rape fantasy masquerading as a song, featuring lines like, “I’ll give you something big enough to tear that ass in two” — Pharrell has come out with “G I R L,” an album that he calls a “celebration of womankind” and that features lines like, “I’ll set that ass on fire.” I’m not saying that every song ever written has to be a paragon of woman-positivity; I’m just saying that if you position your album as such in the promotional material, people are going to notice. If you can look past that, however, “G I R L” isn’t a bad album. In fact, it’s fairly infectious. Pharrell has effectively tapped into the zeitgeist of modern pop sensibilities, and he has the good sense to stick with what works. It’s not Mina Loy, but it is fun to listen to. CV

 

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cd plus minus+/-

“Jumping the Tracks”

Teenbeat Records

The New York-based math-pop trio has released its follow-up to 2008’s generally-lauded “Xs on Your Eyes,” and it manages to pick up pretty much exactly where the band left off. “Jumping the Tracks” is full of songs that all manage to sound light enough to be palatable for most listeners but are still fraught with boundless complexity. Odd time signatures and idiosyncratic beats abound. The thing that +/- does particularly well is to make its music friendly and accessible enough for casual fans who just want a little bubblegum to bop their heads happily to, while still having enough layers subsumed in each song to keep math-music geeks equally enthralled. “The Bitterest Pill” is perhaps the finest example of this juxtaposition on the album. CV

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