Robin Thicke has achieved something historic: His No. 1 single “Blurred Lines” is arguably THE song of the summer for 2013. So for decades to come, millions will associate whatever they’re doing this season with his breezy, percussion-heavy sexy/naughty confection. Guests T.I. and Pharrell are around to give it extra lift, but what seals it are the insistent rhythm and Thicke’s in-and-out falsetto that teases with lines like, “I know you want it/I know you want it/I know you want it.”
Robin Thicke performs "Blurred Lines"
Now the Los Angeles native is delivering more of “it” with the album “Blurred Lines,” and the’70s R&B/dance vibe that energizes the title track threads through many other songs, including the intoxicating “Top of the World” and the gorgeously arranged “Ooo La La” that heats up the asphalt at the intersection of old-school soul and slow-burning disco.
Although a few other songs complacently churn around in deliciously retro grooves – “Get In My Way,” “Ain’t No Hat 4 That” and “Feel Good” – Thicke isn’t a nostalgia act. He’s a soulful singer who, with his sixth album, elevates his game.
There’s futuristic danger in the dark electronica of “Take It Easy on Me” – where Thicke still manages to work in sensuality (“I wanna shop for your underwear”) – and the even dirtier “Give It 2 U,” featuring Kendrick Lamar, mesmerizes with throbbing elastic bass.
There’s a meditative Prince feel to “Give It 2 U” that also surfaces in the fluttery, subtle layers of the ballad “4 the Rest of My Life” (and the numbers-for-words in the titles also bring the Purple One to mind).
But again, Thicke is his own man. He’s a stylish bad boy with a sterling voice and a stellar team behind him. He sells “Blurred Lines” all the way, even down to the tricky, gospel-flavored “The Good Life” that disarms with the simplicity of honest gratitude.
“Blurred Lines” is the album Justin Timberlake should have released this year.
He didn’t, however, and now there’s a new sheriff in town.
Rating: 4 stars (out of five)
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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