Franco and friend have appeared to have taken visual cues from things like kaleidoscopes and Lana Del Rey's "Greatest YouTube Hits" for the video of first single, "Love in the Old Days." Nothing is differentiating it from the all those that flood Stereogum and Pitchfork on a daily basis besides the fact that James Franco is involved in this one.
Song-wise, it's a bit more interesting. Over a sedated, loungey bounce, Franco waxes poetic about "the old days" and how falling in love was better then, presumably because you couldn't find out on Facebook about all of your partner's weird habits, you had to wait for that shit to be revealed in real-time. We learn that James Franco performing a mostly spoken-word song inspired by Motown sounds like Brooklyn band Real Estate trying to sound sexy, which actually isn't entirely awful, just a bit forced.
Of course this new song features Franco duetting with Smokey Robinson because, one day, Franco awoke on an airplane after watching a Motown documentary, and there was ol' Smokey, just standing there. He tells SPIN all about it. That's what happens when you're a move star, people.
The swirling, bloody faces in the video didn't make much sense to me at first, but, oh, now I get it. The song is called "Crime." Love is a crime, and Franco, Smokey and O'Keefe can't help but commit it. (Lyrics are not proving to be Daddy's strong point.) On the flip side, the stiffness of Franco's voice is partially offset by Smokey's fluttery high runs and the nearly three minutes flow by so easily it's difficult to put any effort in turing it off. Perfectly pleasant? Yes. Inconsequential? Probably. Viable fuel for more Franco backlash? No.
Follow Lauren Beck, who once served James Franco a venti coffee at Starbucks back in her barista days, on Twitter @heylaurenbeck.