Album Reviews

Lenny Kravitz – Blue Electric Light

(Roxie/BMG) UK release date: 24 May 2024

The sexiest rocker this side of Christendom returns with a distinctly ’80s aesthetic, and tongue firmly planted in cheek

Lenny Kravitz - Blue Electric Light One might suspect, owing to the fact that he doesn’t ever seem to age, that Lenny Kravitz is some kind of vampire. If you add into the equation that he might be the single most magnetic human male ever invented, you really have to start considering the possibility. 

His music, which has long been a major concern, is – thankfully – about as dependable as any major artist of his generation. If you stick on any of his studio albums, you’re going to find a raunchy blend of Prince, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye and Kiss. The production might reflect modern trends, or it might be deliberately old school – or, as is the case with most of his albums, a mixture of the two – but it will always prioritise his silky voice, his penchant for rubbery dance rhythms and his love of a theatrically overblown guitar solo. 

Blue Electric Light is no different, and all the better for it. It relies on a distinctly ’80s aesthetic, but does so with tongue firmly planted in cheek. It opens with It’s Another Fine Day (In This Universe Of Love), which has a hefty dose of Eric Clapton/Mark Knopfler guitar smoothness and a late-night coastal drive ambiance. It’s long (over six minutes) but it’s built for comfort, not speed.

TK421 (named after an unfortunate stormtrooper from Star Wars, one assumes) increases the pace, and sounds like prime INXS – almost to a fault. It’s a trick he’s pulled several times before (Sex, from his 2014 album Strut, sounds like the riff from Need You Tonight welded to the bass from Queen’s Another One Bites The Dust, whereas this one sounds like Suicide Blonde). It’s almost certainly code for his penis, too, which is definitely on-brand. Honey – another euphemism for sex, no doubt – lays back into a smooth and seductive groove, before the best track on the album, Paralyzed, thrusts a studded codpiece in your face with some Gene Simmons bass thunder and a fat Led Zep drum stomp under a guitar figure borrowed from While My Guitar Gently Weeps. So far, so Lenny.

Let It Ride is a straight ’80s homage – it’s a synth-accented Prince-flavoured banger that young whippersnappers like St Vincent would be proud of. Stuck In The Middle is an overblown ballad (it was about time), but Bundle of Joy is surprisingly earnest and sweet for Lenny. It’s not often you get to hear the man being sincere about anything other than coitus, and it’s refreshing to hear.

Detractors might make the same comments they make about all heritage rock acts – the music is made obsolete by previous, better albums that they might not have liked in the first place – but they really can’t say that Blue Electric Light isn’t a considered, cohesive work. A B-tier album by an artist of this calibre is still a rare treat, and this one just about edges into the category above. If any other artists pushing 60 still sound this vital, and like they’re having this much fun, please direct them our way. With Blue Electric Light, Lenny Kravitz maintains his position as the sexiest rocker this side of Christendom. Mission accomplished. 

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