PRISM – Katy Perry

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There are a lot of pop albums coming out this winter – which isn’t much of a surprise, ’tis the season – but this is, like an extra special year, d’uh. We’ve had Miley but we’ve also got KP, Lady GaGa, and Britney on the way. Of these, the most self aware is Katy Perry then Miley, and GaGa and Britney are so far left they’ve lost all sense of … anything. Which is a good thing! For the former pair, obviously. Perry succeeds in not taking herself seriously which, apart from being good advice for like, everyone, is a very good mindset for a third album (especially when your last album was Teenage Dream). It’s allowed her to move to her own groove. Which, it turns out is a rando mix of Swedish house music, the 90s and kooky-as-fuck imagery. It werks, because she’s one of the world’s biggest pop stars. But it’s a coherently-conceived album with her strongest vocal performance yet and not a Kanye in sight.

This being one of Capitol’s hottest brands, it had to have Roar as its lead single because that’a guaranteed number one in the U.S (and several other countries) but underneath that’s it’s a much more interesting, and cohesive record. The key is in its understatement. You’ve got the tinkling, deep house Walking On Air, the trap-Juicy-J jam Dark Horse and the lusciously 90s International Smile (written about her pal, Mia Moretti which features the line: ‘She’s a little bit Yoko and a little bit oh no!’). Sometime’s it playing spot the difference to a Robyn record but its Swedish sound (seriously, list off some of those collaborators) is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s probably what sets it apart from her first two albums. It’s just a little weird at times. Like really weird. Take the two stand-out tracks, Legendary Lovers and Double Rainbow. The first is a mix of bhangra, new-age imagery and like, Paganism. The second, a Sia collab, is named after a YouTube sensation (which is  a pretty Perry move) but turns any laughter into a seriously cool love song. It’s all very well produced obviously, with melodies crafted by geniuses and lyrics as goofy as ever (‘we were living on a fault line, but I felt the fault was all mine).

And of course, there’s the obligatory heartfelt ballad. It errs more toward Halo than Wrecking Ball (which is a surprise given Perry’s acerbic wit) but it’s brilliant. And it’s her next single, so expect to be hearing it a lot more very soon.

So where does the album miss the mark? Some have pointed to By The Grace of God which is unconvincing-Alana, according to Rolling Stone. I get where they’re coming from but Perry’s audience is going to be largely teenage and teenagers notoriously need saving. In short, it’s her third album so I’d cut her some slack. She can’t go quite as weird as Beyonce gets to (4) and she’s not carved out such a fearsome public persona that she can release an album where Pour It Up is a potential single. For a third album, it’s remarkably sophisticated, weirdly left-field and a neat addition to her discography. Whatever, it’s Friday. Play Birthday and get drunk already.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA About Henry Wong

Sometimes, I write about music. Pretty cool. You can follow me on Twitter @henellenthorpe, find on Instagram @hennnners or even go old school and e-mail me at henry@canyouhearthis.co.uk

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