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Janelle Monáe’s feet barely touched the ground on her last album, 2010’s “The ArchAndroid.” She was in her own galaxy, a weird, wonderful pop cosmos where James Brown, David Bowie, Betty Davis, and Michael Jackson were all touchstones for Monáe’s shape-shifting music.
That album, bolstered by her blistering live shows, was a showstopper (not to mention a steamroller), and it made Monáe a force who couldn’t be bothered by the confines of genre. In a tuxedo and pompadour, she danced on the fringes of R&B, funk, soul, pop, and chamber music.
Three years later, she continues that record’s voyage with “The Electric Lady,” a dense follow-up that’s no less outsize in its ambition. This is Monáe in her usual mode: overdrive. As with her previous releases, it comes with a narrative about an android named Cindi Mayweather, and this album is the soundtrack to her adventures on Earth.