Janelle Monáe – Metropolis: Suite 1 (The Chase) (EP Review)

Basic Background

Metropolis: Suite 1 (The Chase) is Monáe’s first EP and first installment in her musical embodiment of a story inspired by the 1927 German Sci-fi film “Metropolis.” In this first installment, we learn about protagonist Cindi Mayweather, an android, who has illegally fallen in love with human Anthony Greendown. And here’s my fatal attempt at interpreting these lyrics; I’m definitely not the best at this:
In “Violet Stars Happy Hunting,” Mayweather, in a panicked stupor, has to run from the cops. This song also gives information about Mayweather’s and an android’s role in society. They are meant to be servants to humans, and unsurprisingly, can be seen as whores, used for the pleasure of humans. With the song “Many Moons,” Cindi tells about her life before her love was revealed. (Thanks genius.com).

The line “Tell me, are you bold enough to reach for love?” reveals to the listener that Cindi confessed her love to Greendown. I’m guessing he didn’t feel the same, or didn’t want to be caught in love, and reported it. My interpretation of “Cybertronic Purgatory” and the lullaby heard at the end of “Many Moons” is that they show off Mayweather’s inner thoughts. She may have heard the lullaby while she was a servant and sings it to herself to calm down; while “Cybertronic Purgatory” is her message to Anthony, whether he can hear it or not. “Sincerely, Jane” talks about how Cindi Mayweather feels about her ended romance and the world she lives in. The EP was later re-released as a special edition with two extra tracks. Judging that the latter of the two tracks, “Smile,” is a cover and the former, “Mr. President,” could apply to our world, I think the two extra tracks are not apart of the story.

Opinions

Janelle Monáe is putting the soul back into 2719 tragic android love stories. The best thing about this EP are the vocals. Monáe’s performance fits well with every song. Throughout the seven tracks Janelle’s vocals are, when appropriate, energetic (see “Violet Stars Happy Hunting!” and “Many Moons”), soulful (see “Sincerely, Jane”), calm and soothing (see the lullaby in “Many Moons” and “Cybertronic Purgatory”), and mellow (see “Mr. President” and “Smile”). If there was one reason to listen to Monáe’s music, it would be to hear how talented she is. The songwriting on this album is both lyrically and musically wonderful. Monáe, Charles Joseph II, and Nathaniel Irvin III’s lyrics depict a unique story presented in a way that makes the listener pity and root for our protagonist, Cindi Mayweather (at least I did), as well as let the listener interpret the story’s plot and what the lyrics are trying to convey about the world Mayweather lives in. The EP can be split into two parts because of how they sound musically: the “Violet Stars Happy Hunting/Many Moons” melody, and the rest.

The music on the melody features a heavy use of background vocals, in-your-face pounding drums, and on “Violet Stars,” a crisp, punchy guitar sound that is, sadly, only found on this song. “Cybertonic Purgatory” continues the lullaby from “Many Moons.” I almost always skip this song. As a slow, quiet song, I have to be in that kind of mood to enjoy it; and after the melody, I’m not. “Sincerely, Jane” has an orchestral sound to back up Monáe’s voice. That and a turntable (it’s actually not bad) at various points in the song. Monáe’s vocal performance is stellar as usual and the orchestral sound adds another dynamic element to the album. “Mr. President” and “Smile” are more stripped down and relaxed compared to the rest of the EP. The two bonus tracks don’t fit well on the EP musically, and are the two worst songs on the album.

The Verdict

The “Violet Stars Happy Hunting!/Many Moons” melody itself is an A+ or 10/10, but with the inclusion of the other five tracks, the EP grade drops to an A- or a 9.0/10. If I reviewed the original EP, the grade would be an A or a 9.5/10. “Mr. President” and “Smile” are, on their own, good songs, but are out of place on the EP. I recommend this album to who ever decided to read this review. But really, if you like brilliantly executed pop with an R&B/funk flavor, and an artist that puts so much heart, soul, and energy into her music (you can see this in her live performances), then check out Janelle Monáe’s music.

9.5/10

The March of the Wolfmasters: it’s spoken word, so, uh… 9/10
Violet Stars Happy Hunting!: 10/10
Many Moons: 10/10
Cybertronic Purgatory: 6.5/10
Sincerely, Jane: 8.5/10
Mrs. President: 8/10
Smile: 6.5/10

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