It's been five years since Prince put out a new record in the United States, since he limited the release of his 20Ten LP, but that will change this fall. On September 30th, the artist will release two new records: Plectrumelectrum, his long-teased album with the group 3rdEyeGirl, and his recently announced solo LP, Art Official Age. He will reportedly hold a series of special events and live dates around the world, details for which are forthcoming, to celebrate the albums' release. Both records are available separately as pre-orders, via the website ArtOfficialAge.com, and include "instant gratification" downloads.
Art Official Age is being billed as "classic Prince," since it was produced, arranged, composed and performed by the musician (alongside singer-songwriter Joshua Welton). The record reportedly contains a mix of soul, R&B and funk. The pre-order includes the songs "Breakdown" and "Clouds," as well as three digital singles. The funky, jazzy latter track is now streaming at Complex.
Prince has already released the video for album track "Breakfast Can Wait" and he played "Funknroll" during his appearance on Arsenio earlier this year, though the version on Art Official Age is "funkier and nastier," according to a Minneapolis Star Tribune writer who got an early listen. The reporter also claimed that "This Could Be Us" was a ballad inspired by Prince's Purple Rain costar Apollonia Kotero and that "The Gold Standard" had lyrics "wild and rude." The writer also said the album contained an "aggressive and menacing" rap song featuring Rita Ora.
Plectrumelectrum, a "classic band album" that is said to be an "electrifying funk-rock statement," features the singer leading the all-female group ThirdEyeGirl. The ensemble test-drove a number of the record's songs on their recent Hit and Run tours. "No one can play like this band," Prince told Rolling Stone about the record. "People are going to try, but they won't be able to."
He also previewed the record at a late-night listening session in New York City, which revealed the hard-rock guitar number (and pre-order instant-gratification track) "Pretzelbodylogic," as well as the original version of "Funknroll." Notably absent from the record is Prince's duet with Zooey Deschanel, "Fallinlove2night," which got its debut on The New Girl in March.
The records mark Prince's return to Warner Bros., the label he split from acrimoniously in the Nineties after wearing the word "slave" on his face as a protest to his record contract. "When you stop a man from dreaming, he becomes a slave," he told Rolling Stone in 1996. "That's where I was. I don't own Prince's music. If you don't own your masters, your master owns you." Earlier this year, Prince worked out a deal with the label where he now owns the masters to his recordings. The label previously announced a plan to put out a deluxe, digitally remastered, 30th anniversary release of the Purple Rain soundtrack, though it has yet to announce a release date.
"Prince is one of just a handful of visionary artists who have truly reshaped and redefined modern music and culture," Warner Bros. Chairman & CEO Cameron Strang said in a statement about the two new records. "For the past 35 years, he has never stopped evolving, challenging himself, reinventing his sound and pushing boundaries. In true Prince fashion, he has just given us not one, but two extraordinary albums that express the incredible range and depth of his talent. All of us at WBR are immensely proud to be working with Prince to bring this brilliant new music to his legions of fans around the world, and needless to say we are thrilled to be working in partnership with him again."
Art Official Age track list:
1. "Art Official Cage"
4. "The Gold Standard"
5. "U Know"
6. "Breakfast Can Wait"
7. "This Could Be Us"
8. "What It Feels Like"
9. "Affirmation I & II"
10. "Way Back Home"
13. "Affirmation III"
Plectrumelectrum track list: