Thu, Apr 9, 2009 (midnight)
Prince nowadays indulges his every musical whim, which means he has firmly entered the late-’70s/early ’80s Bob Dylan phase of his career, which makes it difficult for fans to keep up. His latest album is actually three discs packaged together—the ethereal LOtUSFLOW3R, the funkier MPLSoUND and the uncompelling Elixer, the last produced by him but performed by his protégé, Bria Valente—and it’s not all that easy to track down the CDs; you can only buy them from Target ($12 for all three!) or through a subscription to website lotusflow3r.com.
Like that from Dylan’s über-prolific era, Prince’s latest work isn’t particularly memorable, though there are inspired moments, like when he jauntily segues from Tommy James and the Shondells’ “Crimson and Clover” into Jimi Hendrix’s “Wild Thing” near the beginning of LOtUSFLOW3R. In fact, much of the first half of that disc features Hendrix-aping, midtempo guitar stylings. Eventually, though, the pace slows, and soft bass and guitar solos start spiraling out of control. “Love Like Jazz” recalls an elevator Muzak track with a skip, while “77 Beverly Park” is little more than a drowsy, three-minute harpsichord jam.
Things pick back up on MPLSoUND, which at times recalls the energy and club-funk inspiration of Prince’s ’80s Minneapolis scene. Using vocoder and other voice-manipulation effects, the disc kicks off with the winning sing-along “(There’ll Never B) Another Like Me.” But while these tracks maintain a familiar “let’s get it on” vibe, lyrically they tend more toward “let’s go see a PG movie,” with Prince’s offer to help show a female paramour “how to make chocolate cake” about as racy as things get. With Prince, one always prefers a seductive—more so than, say, a culinary—vibe.