Janelle Monáe continues to electrify with new album, ‘The Electric Lady’

Janelle Monáe performed at the House of Blues on Oct. 16, 2012.
Janelle Monáe performed at the House of Blues on Oct. 16, 2012.Credit: Adrienne Battistella/Essence via AP

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Janelle Monáe’s feet barely touched the ground on her last album, 2010’s “The ArchAndroid.” She was in her own galaxy, a weird, wonderful pop cosmos where James Brown, David Bowie, Betty Davis, and Michael Jackson were all touchstones for Monáe’s shape-shifting music.

That album, bolstered by her blistering live shows, was a showstopper (not to mention a steamroller), and it made Monáe a force who couldn’t be bothered by the confines of genre. In a tuxedo and pompadour, she danced on the fringes of R&B, funk, soul, pop, and chamber music.

Three years later, she continues that record’s voyage with “The Electric Lady,” a dense follow-up that’s no less outsize in its ambition. This is Monáe in her usual mode: overdrive. As with her previous releases, it comes with a narrative about an android named Cindi Mayweather, and this album is the soundtrack to her adventures on Earth.

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