Is there any musician that has blended genres more successfully than Prince? Rock and funk rarely sit well together, especially when poppy melodies are involved, but Prince had a special touch. Never has a musician made so many disparate sounds work well together, and with such a distinctive, recognisable style and aesthetic. His androgynous, occasionally histrionic style of singing offset his overtly sexual lyrics, and psychedelic grit offset his glitzy pop instincts. 4Ever attempts to collate that into one greatest hits album, and whilst it doesn’t provide a particularly deep dive, it shows what made Prince special.
4Ever is obstinately a singles album, but that’s not necessarily a problem. Many retrospective collections suffer when they attempt to bog down catchy singles with deep cuts that feel like they were included for authenticity’s sake. Prince, for all his quirk, was a popstar, and it makes sense that this album treat him as such. All his biggest hits are here, like When Doves Cry, and Kiss (mostly in the single edits, but luckily Purple Rain retains its 8-minute album cut), and they’re as good as ever, catchy and strange in equal measure. The rest of the tracklist is made up of lesser-known singles like Delirious and When You Were Mine, the quality of which goes to show just how deep Prince’s back catalogue was.
The lone newly released track is taken from the 1999 sessions, and is called Moonbeam Levels. Most unreleased tracks that end up on compilation albums aren’t great, but Moonbeam Levels is actually a really solid ballad, built around a monstrous guitar riff. Prince’s library of unreleased tracks is infamously vast, and if they are all as good as Moonbeam Levels, Prince fans have a good few years ahead as they trickle out. 4Ever is a good singles collection that probably won’t satisfy Prince diehards looking for a comprehensive collection, but for a casual fan, it’s a great jumping-off point.