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Freshcut

Pharrell builds an ode to women

G I R L Pharrell

On the heels of two monster hits where he was the co-star – the Daft Punk jaunty funk jam “Get Lucky” and the much vilified yet utterly catchy “Blurred Lines” with Robin Thicke, Pharrell is taking the lead with the relentless “Happy,” which appears on the “Despicable Me 2” soundtrack and was nominated for a best original song Oscar. The cheerful tune is also on his second studio album, “G I R L,” released perhaps coincidentally the day after the Academy Award winners are announced.

The 10-track set is an ode to the female form and spirit, peppered with sexy vibes and brash come-ons.

A definite change from his raspier, more alternative first album, which wasn’t particularly successful, “G I R L” proves Pharrell – a member of N.E.R.D. and the hit-making Neptunes – is a true, and exceptional, frontman.

Cynics will dismiss the album as a shameless attempt to derail the accusations of misogyny leveled at “Blurred Lines.” After all, Pharrell is cheeky and sexy, and his lyrics sometimes blur the lines between playful seduction and outright possession.

The record’s tempo matches the upbeat “Happy,” and it deploys killer hooks. The sound is eclectic, ranging from dramatic violins in the Daft Punk-assisted “Gust of Wind” to Motown disco beats in “Hunter” and tribal drums in “Lost Queen.”

A definite homage to women is the female empowerment ballad “Know Who You Are,” where Pharrell sings with piano queen Alicia Keys. No doubt about where he stands on gender equality there.

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