Review: 15 Thoughts On Prince’s Gloriously Vital (And Refreshingly Weird) ‘Art Official Age’

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The well worn, dimly lit cliché is always lurking within the deep recesses of our all-too crowded memory banks. It’s a knee-jerk, prisoner-of-the-moment reaction that derails nuanced critical dissection and gives even the best of us an easy way out. The music stops. And after absorbing the entire wonderful, wacky and defiant damn thing you are tempted with the lazy urge to proclaim the latest album from arguably the most gifted and enigmatic pop star of the last 30 plus years, Prince Rogers Nelson, as the artist’s best work since [fill in the blank with any of His Royal Badness’ G.O.A.T. era ’80s works or maybe his more underrated ’90s statements]. But let’s steer clear of such banal drivel.

Here’s the lede: Art Official Age, the 34th studio album from Prince on the heels of his quite shocking return to Warner Bros. Records, following a very bitter and public divorce, finds Minneapolis, Minnesota’s one-man-band pulling off the improbable. The iconic 56-year-old has delivered a 12th round knockout to Father Time. Infectious, ageless, conceptual, forward-thinking, playful and deeply layered, Art Official Age doesn’t so much hail a (cliché alert!) return-to-form for a visionary who transformed the decade of decadence into his own personal Rude Boy playground with a string of groundbreaking statements—Dirty Mind, 1999, Purple Rain, Parade, Sign O’ The Times, LoveSexy—often times putting his peers to shame with delirious, prolific obsession.

The Purple One’s first long-playing set in four years—which will be released Tuesday (Sept. 30) alongside the performer’s rock-leaning 3rdeyegirl project Plectrum Electrum—presents an inspired highlight clip of a talent reveling in his own Princely-ness. This is indeed headline-worthy news after hit-or-miss years of Prince running away from his towering sexy beast of a mojo. That’s not to say the concert staple hasn’t released any credible projects over the last 15 years or so years. But most recently his output has had a faded copy feel; in a sense Prince covering Prince.

So why is Art Official Age an album that will make even the most jaded, bring-back-the-the-Revolution! fanatic crack a pooh pooh-eating grin? We break it all down, in 15 nuggets. —Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)

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