Blurred Lines is an afternoon quickie everyone can groove to
Robin Thicke’s ready for a little fun outside of the sheets. For Blurred Lines, his sixth solo album, the singer, songwriter and seducer takes listeners to a new musical space, one that differs tremendously from the baby-making playlist he curated last.
Sex Therapy: The Experience (2009) was his first post-marriage project, and ears could tell. It was mostly smoky and sensual, and he very well could’ve recorded it post-deed, enveloped in the balmy heat of his master bedroom (his son, Julian Fuego Thicke, was probably a byproduct of the session). This time, the newly-minted dad opted for something lighter and happier; a sound suitable for all ages. The moment Blurred Lines jumps to the top of the iPod queue, we witness the 36-year-old walk out of the bedroom and into the common area for a family function.
Blurred Lines remains true to its name, smudging both genre and decade boundaries. It’s disco-meets-rave-meets R&B. The quickie—11 songs clock in at a mere 44 minutes—has a family-gathering appeal to it, catering to probable attendees of a barbecue, graduation party or Sweet 16. Be clear, Blurred Lines wasn’t meant to be heard for lyrical complexity or meme-able quotes. It’s hard to listen to his verbiage and tell what the songs are about because all efforts are spent stifling urges to break into an 8-count.
Right from jump, Pharrell’s festive “Errbody get up!” on the title track forces bodies out of seats like a pesky uncle dragging his niece by the arms onto the dance floor. The Timbaland-produced “Take It Easy On Me” beckons for staccato struts down an imaginary runway while “Get In My Way” brings the entire crowd down a Soul Train line. The 70s-inspired “Ooh La La” and “Ain’t No Hat 4 That” might as well be one track, as they both prompt the same light shuffle and fare well under a glitzy disco ball. Happy-go-lucky grooves vanish for “Give It 2 U,” the only explicitly sexual song on the album. Everyone’s favorite good kid Kendrick Lamar—the only feature besides Pharrell and T.I.—talks naughty to us (“I wanna sit you where my face at”) over a bouncy, synth-heavy beat, summoning deep body rolls when mom and pop aren’t looking.
Thicke manages to sneak in a little bit of alone time with the Mrs. on “For the Rest of My Life.” The breezy ballad is a delightful switch from upbeat two-stepping to cheek-on-chest slow dancing. While spilling tidbits of the pair’s history, he escapes his trademark falsetto for a few golden moments of ad-libbing. It’s easy to forget he can sing on the left side of the piano. The pleasantries go awry on the chummy “The Good Life,” a painfully geriatric and sepia-toned three minutes compared to the rest of the album’s lava lamp appeal. Slow, repetitive piano chords and a lack of climax translate to an unwanted lullaby. To close out the experience, Thicke provides a reworking of “Blurred Lines” that could easily be the backdrop for a Coachella crowd, complete with drunken smiles, tousled hair moving in slow motion and glow sticks swirling in the night.
While the LP’s abrupt end leaves minds wondering why he didn't churn out more songs, looking for the answer is an almost fruitless task. It’s a pleasant, speedy listen with little form, designed for enjoyment purposes only. Robin’s rejoicing in his wins—“Blurred Lines” reached more than 242.65 million listeners and spent seven weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100—and is inviting us all to join in on the celebration. There’s no need for further interpretation. Besides, too much thinking ruins a good party anyway. –Stacy-Ann Ellis (@stassi_x)