Janelle Monaé feels like more of a movie star than a pop star at this point, but their track record in pop music remains spectacular. They’ll add to it this summer with The Age Of Pleasure, their first album since 2018’s Dirty Computer. It opens with Monáe’s recent single “Float” and also features “Lipstick Lover,” the new single out today.
“Lipstick Lover” is a sensual celebration with a video to match. With a bouncing reggae beat, they sing all about how much they enjoy when a lover leaves lipstick marks behind. The visuals, directed by Monáe and Alan Ferguson, are vivid and more or less NSFW. A statement from Monáe:
As we enter into The Age Of Pleasure, “Lipstick Lover” is our freeassmothafucka anthem inspired by f.a.m. for f.a.m. This is our oasis made with love, rooted in self acceptance, throbbing in self discovery, and signed with cherry red kisses from me to you.
01 “Float” (Feat. Seun Kuti & Egypt 80)
02 “Champagne Shit”
03 “Black Sugar Beach”
06 “Oh La La”
07 “Lipstick Lover”
08 “The Rush”
09 “The French 75”
10 “Water Slide”
11 “Know Better”
12 “Paid In Pleasure”
13 “Only Have Eyes 42”
14 “A Dry Red”
Speaking to Apple Music, Monáe discussed the new single:
That song, “Lipstick Lover,” ugh. I’m like, “Why didn’t I write this song years ago?” Because if you know me… Today, I don’t have on any red lipstick, but I’m always in red lipstick. And there have been so many instances where I’ve made out with somebody at a party and it’s dark. Nobody notices it. But when the lights come on, whoever I’ve made out with, lipstick all over their face. And then I’ve also been on the receiving end of a human… who’s so attractive…. Or I’ll get home and I’m like, “Oh my God. I have lipstick all over my face.” And I’ve also been the Lipstick Lover where…You know exactly who I kissed.
There’s also this about the album as a whole:
All the songs were written from such an honest space. Look, it never stops. Even with this album, this project. I’m just like, “You know what? It takes work.” I have to learn things all over again. I have to practice. I have to… And thank God I love the songs. Yeah. So it’s always a fun thing to do to. It’s like starting on a blank canvas.
So I hope that people feel that when they listen to the music, that they feel that when they come and counter with me when I’m around, I definitely have had an opportunity to evolve and grow and to tap into the things that bring me pleasure, the things that perhaps I should rethink and rework. Sometimes it really is just saying, “You know what? Let’s get back to the basics and also let’s honor the present.
So all the songs were written from such an honest space. And what I’m super excited about with the Age of Pleasure. The Age of Pleasure is that… Listen, I’ve had my age of depression. I’ve had my age of anxiety. I’ve had my age of struggle. And again, it’s not like life is pleasurable every single day, but I think I have actively just sought out… How do I create a space for myself? How do I redirect my mind on how I’m thinking about things? How do I realize that right now in this present moment, moments that we’ll never get back, this is where you need to find your pleasure? This is your moment. Don’t let it get confused that five minutes later, we’re going to try to go into doing something different. And again, this is just my experience where I’m at, even through, despite what I may be going through, there’s going to be a moment where this bad moment, I won’t even be around to even discuss it. I won’t.
And one more:
When I was writing The Age of Pleasure, I wrote it with friends, four friends. I was just like, “If my friends fuck with this, this is for us,” because when we are together, I want them to want to play it. And what I would do is if I knew we were having a party on that Friday or Saturday, on Monday and Tuesday, I’d be like, “All right. We’re going to write three songs.” If the songs can’t work at the party, they’re not going on the album. I was like, “If people are not trying to Shazam…” Because I was like, “Don’t say it’s me. Don’t.” If they know… Whatever. I need them Shazaming. And so I have my friend who’s my DJ. He worked on some of the songs on the project with me. I was like, “Just play it. Put it after this song.” We put it in the set list. And that’s how we made the album. I was walking around. I was so scared. I almost went to the bathroom one time. But “Float,” we did that. “Lipstick Lover,” we did like that. I have a song called “Champagne Machine” that’s on there. I don’t want to give away too much, but basically every song that you’ll hear on the project, that’s how I did it. I want it to be so specific to this Pan-African crowd who are my friends. I want it to be a love letter to the diaspora. And if they fuck with it, it’s good. I’m great.
The Age Of Pleasure is out 6/9 (nice) on Wondaland Arts Society/Atlantic.