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Pharrell's new album, 'Girl,' sure to be summer's soundtrack

Pharrell Williams performs during the German television show

Pharrell Williams performs during the German television show "Wetten, dass..?" ("Bet, that..?") on Feb. 22, 2014 in Duesseldorf, Germany. Credit: EPA / Marius Becker

Can Pharrell top his incredible 2013?

Well, the singer- songwriter-producer-hat-wearing-fashionista is certainly going to try. His new solo album, "G I R L" (Columbia), does seem to pick up where his smash collaborations -- "Get Lucky" with Daft Punk and "Blurred Lines" with Robin Thicke and T.I. -- left off.

The first single, "Happy," also from the soundtrack to "Despicable Me 2," shows that Pharrell is able to top the charts all by himself with his own brand of disco-fied R&B. But that's really only the starting point for

"G I R L," which tries to add some edge to his ready-for-radio style.

"Hunter" is so retro it's risky, piling "Rapture"-like rhymes over scratch guitar riffs and disco bass lines, while he brings back some of his "Hollaback Girl" style for his duet with Miley Cyrus on "Come Get It Bae."

However, "G I R L" isn't as experimental as his first solo album, "In My Mind," from 2006. He packs this one with surefire hits. Pharrell is at his best when he blends his love of old soul and new beats, which he manages quite well in the groovy "It Girl" and "Brand New," where he and Justin Timberlake team to combine "Off the Wall"-era Michael Jackson with Earth, Wind & Fire, complete with dueling falsettos. His ska-tinged duet with Alicia Keys, "I Know Who You Are," is another possibility for him to extend his winning streak, or lightning could strike again with his Daft Punk collaboration "Gust of Wind."

Get ready for "The Summer of Pharrell -- The Sequel."

PHARRELL

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"G I R L"

GRADE B+

BOTTOM LINE Looking to "Get Lucky" on his own.

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