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Forget about the McConaugh-ssaince -- how about the Pharrell-aissance?

True, Pharrell Williams' creative stock was probably never as low as Matthew McConaughey's was before his exciting, "Everything is Awesome" talent binge.

But he seemed to still be stuck in a funk, long removed from the days of being the mastermind behind seemingly every pop banger ("I'm A Slave 4 U," "Hot in Herre," "Like I Love You") and critical hit (Clipse's Hell Hath No Fury).

That was before 2013, when Williams appeared on the two most ubiquitous records of the year ("Blurred Lines" and "Get Lucky"), had a solo No. 1 hit and Oscar nomination for "Happy" off the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack, and wore a hilarious hat.

G I R L, his second solo album, feels like a project from that guy, one who is so locked in that he can make Miley Cyrus a capable duet partner. "Come Get It Bae"' sounds a lot like "#GETITRIGHT," the bubblegum sex jam Williams produced for Cyrus' Bangerz (the bridge in particular is essentially a shot-for-shot remake), but its irresistible catchiness fits in with the rest of the smoother-than-silk album.

Williams channels his upper-register Michael Jackson on much of G I R L, crooning on the Motown-style love song "Know Who You Are" with Alicia Keys, who's thankfully stopped screaming and decided to try singing again. "Lost Queen" features a hypnotizing sample and a calm vocal delivery from Williams, who's never sounded more comfortable than he does on this album. And you don't even have to hear "Happy" (which is here) to know that.


His whole feminist concept for the album (likely his response to the controversy surrounding the supposed "rapey" message of "Blurred Lines") is a little half-baked. While songs like "Lost Queen" certainly celebrate women in respectful ways, he does have a song called "Gush." It's great -- but listen to the hook and don't try to say that this guy is suddenly free of his sexism.

But that's OK. He can pretty much do no wrong. The Pharrell-aissance hasn't ended yet.

If you had to have three: "Know Who You Are," "Lost Queen," "It Girl"

Follow Pete McQuaid on Twitter and Tout @sweetestpete.