Royalty#039;s recent release a little less than regal

He’s been called many things over the course of his career, but Prince has never been uninteresting. From branding himself a “slave” in protest of record companies, to changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol to a well-documented history of assorted bold fashion statements, the artist has consistently kept audiences shocked and coming back for more.

Until now, anyway. Prince’s latest album, 3121, is another solid output in the vein of his last, Musicology, but it lacks the spark that once made his records indispensable, a sign o’ the times that Prince’s purple reign could be ending.

In his heyday, Prince was insatiable. Melding influences from funk, dance and rock, he lustily wailed about taming little red love machines and his other various coital exploits.

He’s still got respect for his elders-note the shout-outs to Sly and Rick James on Musicology’s title track-but he’s curbed his sexual conduct considerably.

Attribute this newfound tact to Prince’s conversion to the Jehovah’s Witnesses faith in 2001.

Thankfully, 3121 isn’t The Watchtower set to a groove, but unfortunately, Prince left behind characters like “Darling Nikki” (a freak extraordinaire he met while she was pleasuring herself in a hotel lobby) when he gave up his hedonistic ways.

This doesn’t mean he’s left the bedroom out of his music, however. Instead, tracks like “Satisfied” have Prince pleading to his love that he “ain’t talking about nothing physical / ‘Cause foreplay starts in the mind.”

While Prince should probably be applauded for preaching a different sermon in an era where his peers praise the attributes of bitches and hos, a lot of his appeal came from his risqu