Prince Art Official Age Warner Bros Prince has been effectively absent from the music scene in the 21st century, relevant more as a relic of a past era than as a living, breathing artist. His new album is unexpected; released with little of the fanfare befitting a cultural icon (or an artist formerly known as one). It feels as though Prince was cryogenically thawed out – and he’s in on the joke (see: Clouds ). “When life’s a stage/ In this brand new age/How do we engage?” Luckily for Prince, he has redeployed on friendly territory. Today’s music scene is primed to receive him, given the current reigning blends of electronica, R&B, irony, androgyny and nuttiness. Think Janelle Monae, Miguel, How To Dress Well, or even Beyoncé. Prince fits right in – and Art Official Age is his best work in years. Despite its weirdness, Art Official Age has an emotional urgency and directness that’s startling and seductive. Prince isn’t usually associated with barefaced emotion, but it improves him. The album ranges from classic electrofunk ( The Gold Standard ) to something more maudlin ( Breakdown ), and it’s uniformly sexy and convincing. Luke James Luke James Island/Def Jam Luke James has the voice of an angel - and he knows how to use it. The New Orleans native went to high school with Frank Ocean, appeared in the Destiny's Child video for Soldier , penned hits for Chris Brown and Justin Bieber, released a number of acclaimed EPs and singles and, perhaps most impressively, toured the world opening for Beyoncé. But his eponymous debut marks a new moment of visibility in his career. Compared to the work of his contemporaries, he sounds positively classical; James has little use for the irony, depravity and wilful syncretism of modern R&B. Despite his ties to Ocean, James has more in common with Seal or John Legend than Abel Tesfaye. No one needs another play on The Weeknd, but there's something airtight and flawless about James that's emotionally suffocating, which serves as a reminder of why the raw ravages of House of Balloons were so powerful. Musically, James is amply able, but emotionally, he often sounds too perfect, too practised. Some unexpected imagery wouldn't go amiss. Weezer Everything Will Be Alright in the End Republic Weezer's new album, Everything Will Be Alright in the End , is an exercise in nostalgia. If anyone expected a radical break with tradition, this is not that album. Instead, we are transported back to a simpler time, when hip hop and pop were separate entities, when rockers rocked, when sarcasm trumped irony, and when Weezer were king. The nostalgia is angry and unapologetic. It begins on Back to the Shack , when lead singer Rivers Cuomo exhorts Weezer (and fans) to return to the proverbial "shack" where it was "more hardcore" and they could "rock out like it's '94". The song, and by extension the album, is saved from cranky dad-rocker sentimentality (Eulogy for a Rock Band , I've Had it Up to Here ) by its potently catchy tunes. There's a reason Island in the Sun and Buddy Holly remain such earworms. Plus, some of the guitar solos really do rock. This album will change no minds; in a sense, Everything Will Be Alright in the End , true to its name, is an eschatological project for Weezer, as though the disgruntled, disrespected band piped up once more to say: only God can judge us.