281: Incense and Candles

3121 (2006)
The dreaded autotune: refuge of the mediocre and the merely mortal. Music’s much-maligned MSG and the soulless jackboot stomp of capitalism’s expediency. 90% of pop now has this vocal-corrective software, papering over the cracks in singers’ shortcomings but Prince surely has no need for such a crutch? So when he debuted it on Incense and Candles fans cried foul like it was Dylan going electric. This was no patch-up fix or homogenising youth-appeal gloss though. Prince took a leaf out of the Cher playbook and wields the tool like a wizard, warbling in and out of key to stretch the algorithms to their outermost limits. At times imperceptible; at times full T-Pain. The sound of pop eating itself. Incense and Candles may don the standard-issue armour of the war for commercial exposure, but it’s worn in a style that is pure art.