Friday, November 1, 2013
Album review: Katy Perry transitions from valley girl to wholesome singer on Prism
Though the record lacks a "wow" factor to keep you coming back.
Prism by Katy Perry is intended to be her magnum opus. During her transition from "Barbie, Valley girl" to respectable, wholesome singer, Perry has blessed us with some of the most memorable pop singles of this decade.
While the songs are much more personal than previous albums, the album is missing that je ne sais quoi to really push this album as something that is truly worth buying.
You can hear that a lot of effort went into this album, with its taut production and great writing. This was supposed to be her breakthrough album, overcoming what she’s endured in the past, but I’m left asking myself, “Do we really need this?”
The first single, "Roar," opens the album. I do like that the song is intended to be her down-but-not-out song. It’s uplifting, especially for some, but I don’t feel that Perry is the right choice to belt out the song; more on this later. "Legendary Lovers" shows off Perry’s sensuality in relatively the same fashion, as she has showed off her sexuality in other songs.
"Birthday," the third track, has the potential to eventually become a hit single. The fourth entry, "Walking on Air" is sonically identical to a lot of songs that are currently playing on Top 40 radio, but there’s also something very nostalgic with it sounding like it was made in the early- to mid-90s. Kudos go to Åhlund and Max Martin for the production.
A lot of the songs on Prism have an undertone of her Christian faith. Take "Unconditionally," for example: Open up your heart/Acceptance is the key to be/To be truly free/Will you do the same for me?
These lyrics could be interpreted in two ways, and I find it interesting that Perry, along with her team of writers, chose to go so minimalistic. "Dark Horse," with Juicy J, reminds me of E.T. with the structure and core of the song.
The back half of the album is just as strong as the front half, with "By The Grace of God" being the standout. Keeping with the theme of the album, "By The Grace of God" is very personal, detailing her depression around the time of her divorce with actor/comedian Russell Brand. She was reportedly so depressed during that ordeal that she thought about ending her life, which is mentioned throughout the song.
I don’t have any complaints against any of the songs on the album; all of them are great on their own. However, some of the songs deal with her "comeback." I find this head scratching in a way, since she’s never left her audience or let them down. Maybe that’s just how she feels. When listening to the album I kept thinking that if Perry were to go on some drug binge or went on a hiatus for four years and then came out with Prism, I would feel differently about it.
Like a real Prism, Perry breaks herself down into her multiple layers and shows us her true self. She’s not hiding behind candy-coated dresses, cotton candy hair, or cutesy, poppy lyrics -- she’s showing us, in a way, Katy Hudson (her real name).
The album is much more personal than past efforts and the production values are high. Despite finding little flaws in every song, Prism is missing something to really push it past "good" for me.
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