The Electric Lady

Janelle Monáe

Ambition can get lost with cynicism. After half-a-dozen listens, I was ready to throw in the Lady’s towel. Great for fans, but outside that foundation, the plate looked bare. Why should I care about her growing the base, though? I’m firmly among that number, and I’m not responsible for marketing her. This Lady is fine. From the go-go of the title cut to the young MJ tones of “It’s Code,” the sexiness of “Primetime” with Miguel and the Stevie Wonder of “Ghetto Woman,” Monáe extends her Cindi Mayweather storyline with highlight on top of highlight, hiccupping only in unnecessary interludes. Though frontloaded with features from Prince, Badu and Solange, the album closes stronger than it starts, with the gorgeous “Can’t Live Without Your Love,” the Jeff Buckley-esque “Sally Ride” and the Esperanza Spalding-assisted “Dorothy Dandridge Eyes.”