As we'd expect from a guy who's crafted so many top-40 hits for other artists, the production on Pharrell Williams's Girl is immaculate. Similarly, pretty much every song has chart-worthy hooks and effortlessly funky rhythms, not to mention the expected revolving door of big-name guests (Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys, Miley Cyrus). Still, a puzzling underwhelming quality nags at you even as you bob your head to the bouncy sunny-day grooves.
We want pop music to sound familiar, but there are many moments when the constant retro-soul references feel more manipulative than magic. As he's proven over and over on the pop charts, Williams can sing a great hook, but stretch that across an entire solo album and it's clear that he's not that great a singer. The lyrics are full of the sort of cheesy pickup lines only someone as attractive and wealthy as he is could pull off in real life. It's high-quality pop, but also highly disposable.
Top track: Brand New
Pharrell Williams plays the Air Canada Centre July 26.