Sigh, it’s happened. Maybe it’s senility, maybe it’s just that carefree attitude that comes with age, but Prince seems to have officially descended into self-parody. HITNRUN Phase One was quite possibly one of the worst albums of the year and Phase Two, while not as offensive, as clearly indicative of the staid direction the Purple One is taking.
Take, for example, opening track Baltimore. It’s got sentiment and power behind it, and it’s a very valid protest song. In the hands of Prince? Aged guitar licks and cheesy arrangements make it sound like the opening theme to an 80s early-evening sitcom. That’s also where the pop commentary ends, as social tokenism then makes way for the standard tour of Prince tropes.
The thing is, it’s perhaps largely not the man’s fault. In the time of his activity, the parameters of funk have changed. But whereas someone like Bobby Caldwell is updating his sound for something like Cool Uncle, Prince is resolutely sticking to overwrought brass arrangements on Rocknroll Loveaffair, and the eye-roll lines of “legs so long, she never climbs stairs… she’s too young to dare” on 2 Y. 2 D. Yep, we’re still constructing songs like this in 2015, apparently.
But, as we said, it’s not as offensive as its predecessor. Look At Me, Look At U has as laid-back quality that’s hard to deny, and Xtraloveable really has the right amount of roll to go along with. But then it’s back to the usual rote for the final leg, resulting in an album that adds one more nail into Prince’s increasing irrelevance to the movements of modern music. That’s what happens with a hit ‘n’ run, though – someone ends up pretty much dead.