“The reason why I named it G I R L, in capital letters, is because when you look at it, it looks a little weird, and the reason why it does is because society is a little unbalanced.” — Pharrell Williams, 2014
Well done, Pharrell! Well done! You’ve solved gender inequality!
But in all seriousness, to attempt to paint this album as anything other than a blatant cash-in on not just the global success of last summer’s Pharrell-featuring ‘Blurred Lines’ and ‘Get Lucky’ but also the more recent hit ‘Happy’, would be disingenuous in the extreme.
‘Happy’, despite its continued omnipresence, remains the best song on this record by a distance. There are several tracks which are straight-up bad: ‘Hunter’ repeats its opening ten seconds for the following four minutes, concluding with one of the most terrible attempts at falsetto you will ever hear; ‘Come Get It Bae’ sounds like a rejected ‘Blurred Lines’ B-side (say what you like about ‘Blurred Lines’, and lord knows you don’t need me to add any more, you could see why some people would find it catchy – but not this); and ‘Lost Queen’ is a two-tracks-for-the-price-of-one effort, in which each song competes to be more boring than the other.
‘Gust of Wind’ is a rare high point, smoothly produced with strings and Daft Punk-contributed vocoders. Collaborating with Daft Punk without actually involving them in the songwriting process feels like a missed opportunity, though. Further collaborations with Justin Timberlake and Alicia Keys are generally unremarkable.
This is not a feminist album. To be brutally honest, it’s barely even an album. It is a mishmash of sometimes half-good ideas, neatly produced but lacking any kind of substance.