Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Prince: 3121 [Universal, 2006]
It could be argued that music this masterful waives all claim to the sound of surprise--until you pay attention. Sure "Love" and "Satisfied" and "Fury" constitute a standard sequence, keyb funk to torch r&b to u-got-the-rock--but only by genius standards. Sure he overdubs all the time, but he risks letting the Other play bass and drums on the over-under-sideways-down title tune--and then immediately prefabs the cockeyed "Lolita" by himself. The dubiosities he induces NPG fans to collect prove only that geniuses know who their friends are. I'm back to suspecting that, at 47, the Abstemious One can keep laying top-shelf stuff on the public for as long as he's in the mood. Even if he gets on your nerves, treat him nice. A-