The ArchAndroid - Janelle Monáe

Universal acclaim - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 28
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 28
  3. Negative: 0 out of 28
  1. Understanding all this stuff enhances the enjoyment of the album, but it is not required. A few tracks merely push the album along, and a gaudy Of Montreal collaboration is disruptive, but there are numerous highlights that are vastly dissimilar from one another.
  2. The result is a dizzying fusion, marked by its lofty ambition and stunning central performance.
  3. Manipulating her voice as much as she does her sound, Monáe widens the cast of characters and pushes along the self-explorative narrative. The ArchAndroid could be the stuff of stage or screen, 3-D without the annoying glasses.
  4. It's both jarring and exhilarating how disjointed the record often feels, from the dreamy Tin Pan Alley balladry of "Sir Greendown'' to the Screamin' Jay Hawkins freakout "Come Alive (War of the Roses).''
  5. Its sweep across genres and eras is exactly the point. The time-traveling heroine of "The ArchAndroid" aims to uncover previously hidden points of harmony amid chaos. In this case, it's a big risk that brings big reward.
  6. She is what we say we want. The ArchAndroid is not my favorite album of the year so far, but it is undoubtedly the best.
  7. Through the different flavors of ice cream on here, The ArchAndroid: Suites II and III remains a proudly boastful album. It should be discussed by a lot of people and the love it's receiving is no fluke either: this is a skillfully talented artist.
  8. Does every genre suit her equally? Of course not, but most of Janelle Monée's mad experiments yield spectacularly catchy results.
  9. Genius robo-funk opus from worthy-of-the-hype OutKast protege.
  10. At times, the fumes of ambition are so thick off "The ArchAndroid," it's hard to absorb in one sitting. All the same, it's a star-making debut.
  11. As this wildly talented, unpredictable and near flawless young singer and musician bids her farewell with the album's longest track, BaBopBye Ya, this time in cocktail club torch singer style, one can but marvel at the impressive range, ambition (realised) and detail of this deeply polished, professional yet utterly, brilliantly bonkers album.
  12. Her ambition is flabbergasting, let alone that she executes it with bundles of fun and a fizzing personality.
  13. For a first album, The ArchAndroid is astoundingly accomplished. It would be a lie to say there aren't a few lulls in the back end of the record as Monae begins to take fewer risks, but only the truly seminal albums can keep the quality level so high for over an hour.
  14. Its intriguing combination of 70s Bowie glam, James Brown soul and Outkast weirdness can't really be taken in after one spin. True rewards come from repeat listens. Finally, something worthy of the hype.
  15. The ArchAndroid is a fully immersive, theatrical experience. It's a near-perfect R&B album; hell, it's a fantastic hip-hop, psychedelic, neo-soul, dance and orchestral album too.
  16. Where many concept albums run a high risk of being pompous, cryptic, and self-important, Monáe keeps things playful, lively, and accessible. It's a delicate balancing act, but Monáe and her band pull it off, resulting in an eccentric breakthrough that transcends its novelty.
  17. It's funky and fantastic, futuristic but retro. It's in a category of its own.
  18. In spite of the album's potential obesity at 18 tracks of wildly different musical ideas, the three [Monae and her production partners, Charles "Chuck Lightning" Joseph II and Nathaniel "Nate 'Rocket' Wonder'" Irvin III.] keep the weight off by welcoming coherence and by evenly spreading out their interests.
  19. The reason ArchAndroid is so good is because, from minute one, it is so apparent that its author loves music. And for those of us that love music, that's a real treat.
  20. Her full-length debut--about a robot-populated utopia based on Fritz Lang's classic 1927 film Metropolis--is so ambitious, so freighted with sounds and ideas and allusions, it threatens at times to sink under its own weight.
  21. As is, she's turned out a landmark debut that contains a full LP's worth of excellent songs and almost no bad ones, and she's done it entirely on her own highly idiosyncratic terms.
  22. 90
    Some songs fade out just as they're transforming into something else; others split into several movements, and poetic lyrics psychedelicize hefty topics like war and slavery. Even at 18 tracks, The ArchAndroid feels condensed.
  23. The Archandroid is everything her fans had been hoping for and then some; Monae has earned her place at the forefront of black music in 2010. This ballsy, funky, and furiously intelligent album is pop as everybody wishes it would be.
  24. Monae's inexhaustible swagger and singular style sell both the high-concept theatrics and the schizophrenic sonics.
  25. To say it's ambitious feels like damning with faint praise; its sheer musical scope--from the James Brown funk of Tightrope to the English pastoral folk of Oh, Maker--is spellbinding.
  26. The 70-minute album sags by the end, and every listener will probably find one must-skip song. But Ms. Monae gets away with most of her metamorphoses, and the sheer ambition is exhilarating even when she stretches too far.
  27. While the story serves to showcase Monae's creative flair, the songs and her performance draw the focus here, and the wealth of highlights is startling.
  28. 100
    Either allow this the dignity of being played through a quality sound system or go invest in a pair of Beats by Dres. This is far less an album than a cinematic experience.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 369 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 74 out of 78
  2. Negative: 2 out of 78
  1. Aug 22, 2010
    This is one of most impressive albums I've come across in a long time. This album is so large and there are some many different genres of music at play that it is difficult to get a proper handle on it with only one listen. It is only after listening to it a few times through myself that I have been able to fully appreciate it. I like that Janelle Monae had the courage to think big with this album and that there were enough people around her to support her vision and make it a reality. I Full Review »
  2. ChetanP
    May 23, 2010
    Every labored-over song in this intentional masterpiece stands out as a shining example of its kind. As with all of the best concept albums, you're better off ignoring the concept entirely. Forget about this Metropolis android nonsense; the songs and orchestral interludes here revolve only around the human heart, soul, and spirit. Full Review »
  3. Bill
    May 21, 2010
    Excellent album, but I would say that the obvious singles in it (Cold War and Tightrope) disrupt its flow somewhat, despite being excellent tracks in themselves. Full Review »