Rising future-soul star Janelle Monáe is reviving the art of the concept album, citing influences that range from Stevie Wonder to Salvador Dalí.
Monáe’s debut full-length, The ArchAndroid, continues the tale of robot-on-the-run Cindi Mayweather, first introduced on her 2007 EP Metropolis. The wildly diverse album includes contributions from Saul Williams, Outkast’s Big Boi, and Athens-based indie rockers Of Montreal, echoing everyone from Prince to David Bowie on its immense 18-track journey.
Monáe, who first came to attention via her guest tracks on Outkast’s 2006 album Idlewild, approaches her art from all angles, crafting otherworldly music videos, elaborate costumes and stage shows, and intricate storylines. While the album features numerous standout singles, she insists that it is meant to be taken in as a full “emotion picture,” and that listening any other way denies you the full experience.