Prince

Record review

Phases & Stages

Prince

3121 (Universal)

Remember the "New Kids on the Blecch" episode of The Simpsons? Bart, Milhouse, Nelson, and Ralph emerged as a chart-topping boy band called Party Posse by running their normally frail voices through an elaborate enhancement machine designed by the Navy. Apparently, Prince has purchased just such a machine for Paisley Park Studios. Of course 3121 makes one wonder why someone as brilliant as Prince would lower himself to the level of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake by overusing the vocoder like an industry crack pipe. Not that we should dub him Prince Rogers Smellson since his newfound Neptunian minimalism yields refined funk bliss of the trashiest variety through "Black Sweat" and "Love." It's simply that one expects more from Prince than this "futuristic fantasy." Sexual predators will surely jump on "Satisfied" and "Get on the Boat" as the overriding message becomes that something infinitely creepy lurks within the confines of Prince's gaudy West Hollywood mansion.

**

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