Life begins at 40 – or so Pharrell Williams will have you believe. The entrepreneurial vampire made 2013 his bitch, sticking his fingers in the proverbial pies of not one, not two, but three of the year’s biggest hits. Detractors could argue he was simply in the right place at the right time; a pawn in a trio of 2013’s phenomena (Daft Punk, Robin Thicke and Despicable Me 2). Then again, G I R L goes right ahead and disproves that instantly.

It’s the year’s first blockbuster pop album; a record on which every song could be a potential single – and probably will be. The stellar production work backs a set of confident, amorous pop that draws from icons like Prince (‘It Girl’) and Bootsy Collins (‘Hunter’) without becoming a revue. The little black book is pulled out for some notable star power – Justin Timberlake challenges Williams to a falsetto-off in the fantastic ‘Brand New’, while Daft Punk keep the dream team alive with the groovy ‘Gust Of Wind’.

G I R Lcarries the distinctive flair that Williams has established for himself through Neptunes productions, albums with N.E.R.D and his previously sporadic solo work, yet this never feels like a rehash. Rather, it’s a new lease on life.

4/5 stars

G I R Lout now onSony.

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