Givin Em What They Love - Single (2014)
Review By Michael Marcus
February 6, 2015
This single is available for download from these vendors:
If Men in Drag can be summed up in a single word, it's "badass". I've borrowed the term from Robert Dietz's review of Coming Undone, the last track we reviewed from this all-female powerhouse group, but it applies equally, and perhaps even more so, to this Janelle Monáe cover.
Group alumna Brianne Holland's arrangement goes from exposed minimalism to full-on rock and back again, incorporating wonderful textures in the form of grunts, breaths, "hm"s, and even silence. It's a very vocal arrangement, eschewing instrument imitation in favor of something far more visceral (and far more effective). The backs are perfectly in sync, singing and breathing as one single organism. And Lekha Nair's sassy lead cuts perfectly through it all; I daresay the song fits her voice better than it does Janelle's. From a musical standpoint, the whole thing just rocks.
Even so, Givin Em What They Love is still missing something. The technical excellence of this track is not in question — Ed Boyer (mixing) and Dave Sperandio (mastering) have worked their usual magic — but it doesn't move me. I wanted more of an arc, more build from beginning to middle to end. There are dynamics aplenty, but the emotional level of the song remains relatively flat throughout.
Minor quibbles aside, Men in Drag certainly has another hit on its hands. Here's to a continued tradition of badassery from these fearless ladies.