One Track Mind: Prince, “Clouds” from Art Official Age (2014)

Nastily elastic, fantastically dense, “Clouds” heralds a brand-new age for Prince — one where he’s ready to return to the spotlight, and on a very big stage. So, really, that makes it the old age for Prince, right?

Or, in this case, the Art Official Age — the title of his first solo album since returning to Warners Bros. The suddenly resurgent Prince is also releasing another project this fall with 3rd Eye Girl called Plectrum Electrum. Both albums are due September 30, 2014.

But first there’s this early taste of Art Official Age: “Clouds,” which directly references his having been stuck in suspended animation for some time, a sad state of affairs that saw Prince systematically dismantle his own career — beginning with changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol — in the midst of a pitched argument with this same label.

A lengthy period in the indie wilderness followed. He certainly made some great music, but who really heard it? Enough of all that, “Clouds” seems to be saying. Time to get back to good times, to his patented loopy combinations of space-age philosophizing, lip-smacking sexualizing and ass-shaking funkifying. And it’s all made complete with a mystifyingly cool vocal assist from Lianne La Havas.

Prince, who recently sold out an overseas tour called ‘Hit and Run’ with 3rd Eye Girl, has already released “Breakfast Can Wait” and “Fixurlifeup” from Plectrum Electrum. But this one may be the best yet.

Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.