fri 19/07/2024

CD: Katy Perry - PRISM | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Katy Perry - PRISM

CD: Katy Perry - PRISM

Fourth album from pop princess ditches the bubblegum to mixed effect

Genre-mashing experiments: Katy Perry's 'PRISM'

While it wouldn’t have been fair to expect 100 percent authenticity from a performer whose last stage show began with her rising from a trapdoor with two giant peppermint patty pinwheels spinning over her breasts, the follow-up to Teenage Dream was never going to replicate the bubblegum formula of its predecessor.

As the recent documentary Part of Me showed in heartbreaking detail, Katy Perry has had a tumultuous few years - and no amount of Scandinavian hit-factories-for-hire were ever going to paper over all of the cracks.

Still, as infectious lead single - and PRISM opening track - “Roar” proved, Perry’s in the process of picking herself up and putting her failed marriage behind her. The heartbreak is still there - the opening lines of “Ghost” pull no punches as she recalls being dumped by text message - but as empowerment anthems go “Roar” is, well, a beast. It’s certainly the most obvious choice of single from a collection that doesn’t feel as likely to produce standalone hit after standalone hit as previous albums, and is about as far removed emotionally from the album’s closing track - the piano-driven tear-jerker “By the Grace of God” - as the scheduling distance would imply.

And yet those two very different songs, in their own way, feel the most honest - even if the chronology’s a bit screwed up. They certainly connect more easily than much of what comes in between, which at best sounds like too many producers twiddling their knobs (often over lyrics as puerile as this sentence) and at worst an incoherent mess. “Legendary Lovers” mixes Bhangra-style beats with lyrics full of so many mantras and blooming lotuses the whole thing is almost offensive; “Walking on Air” is a forgettable throwback to 90s house; and rapper Juicy J’s guest verse turns the otherwise interesting “Dark Horse” into something ridiculous. Other genre-mashing experiments fare better though: the disco-infused “Birthday” is quite good fun, if you can stop cringing at the lyrics; “Unconditionally” is a decent enough power ballad; and “This is How we Do” salutes California Gurls grown up and out too late with cute call-outs and an almost-charming fake fade.

Overleaf: watch the video for lead single "Roar"

As empowerment anthems go 'Roar' is, well, a beast


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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