Neon Valley Street
Label: Bad Boy/Wondaland
The futuristic world of androids and draconian dating laws Janelle Monae fleshes out on her first full-length sounds awfully ... retro. Monae's pop program music dances from psychedelic rock to folk revival, from disco to Debussy ("Say You'll Go," which filters Clair de Lune through what sounds like the soundtrack to a vintage Disney film). It's a genius move that musically encapsulates the overlap of kitsch and futuristic utopianism that characterizes scifi. But don't let her compelling cyber-narrative and erudite android artistry distract you from Monae's organic gift: her soaring soprano.