Katy Perry: Prism

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Posted October 21, 2013 by in Pop
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Rating

Overall
 
 
 
 
 

3.5/ 5

Details

Genre: ,
 
Producer: , , , , , ,
 
Label:
 
 
 
 
Genre: Pop, synthpop
 
Producer: Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Klas Åhlund, StarGate, Greg Kurstin, Benny Blanco, Greg Wells,
 
Label: Capitol
 
Format: Digital download, compact disc
 
Time: 48:43
 
Release Date: 18 October 2013
 
Spin This: "Birthday," "Unconditionally," "Roar,"
 

Pros:

Expect more pop hits to come. She does explore a few new innovations and different musical templates without sounding bored with her hit-making formula
 

Cons:

Lyric flub here and there; Juicy J's rap on "Dark Horse" are almost hard to forgive. Bonus tracks are forgettable
 

More of the same, some old-school features and a few cutting-edge tricks highlight Katy P’s third solo album

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

More of the same, some old-school features and a few cutting-edge tricks highlight Katy P’s third solo album

Most music critics have not yet given Katy Perry her just due. Maybe five years is still way too soon for one to be geeked about any artist. But you must give her credit: She’s proven to be a here-to-stay pop princess with an ear for instant ear-candy melodies. And those synthpop-driven melodies have proven to be just as addictive and irresistible as crack cocaine. In the short window of time that she’s been a superstar, which began immediately after “I Kissed a Girl” (lifted from her debut solo LP, One of the Boys), Perry has almost effortlessly held her reign on the charts.  And although things like her bio-doc and her smell good innovations are just tools to keep her enterprise afloat, the music remains the centerpiece of her domination. Almost everything off of her sophomore solo disc, Teenage Dream, sashayed its way up the pop charts. And that album, whether it was just a barrage of assembly-line pop or just one heck of a pop record, even faced off with Michael Jackson’s masterpiece Thriller for having the same amount of number one hits to dominate the Hot 100. Perry has this pop hit practice down to a science, and she’s looking forward to extending her conquest for at least two more years with Prism, her third record to date (that’s if you’re only looking at her work as Katy Perry and not as the once-upon-a-time Christian artist Katy Hudson).

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, they say. Prism stays true to that adage by overloading its playlist with more of the same friendly synthpop that decorated the last affair, but she pushes the boundaries some to incorporate pre-EDM flashbacks. The disco-favored “International Smile” dances with the same bubbly that fired up “Part of Me” and “T.G.I.F.,” even if the use of vocoder effects add a striking element to the surface. “Walking on Air” rewinds the clock back to CeCe Peniston and C+C Music Factory beats, pushing Perry deeper into rhythmic waters. At one point, she even bursts into a vocal belt that pushes her into Whitney Houston madness. Reduplicating that powerhouse moment in a live setting remains to be seen. Of the album’s finest standouts, “Birthday” wins easily. It marries Prince & the Revolution riffs with perky disco, and sparkles with some of Perry’s best flirtatious lyrics: “I know you like it sweet so you can have your cake/Give you something good to celebrate.” Ambitious tracks like the New Wave  sequenced “Ghost” and the sitar-possessed “Legendary Lovers” explore newer dimensions, even if her pop radio habits steals some of the thunder out of the artistic curves.

Dr. Luke and Max Martin are responsible for the bulk of the album’s production, which explains why even the more ambitious tracks never push Perry outside her own wall of safety. But Prism does open up a few windows for a few A-list producers to shake up the festivities. Some are good, like the Greg Kurstin/Sia Fuller design “Double Rainbow” which pushes Perry into Florence + the Machine-meets-Bjork dream world. Some are just okay, like the Benny Blanco/Stargate-produced “This Moment” which wizzes around light-Robyn fanfare. And there’s even one episode that’s just downright embarrassing. Rapper Juicy J comes in with faux-Rick Ross swag on “Dark Horse” and ends up falling into quicksand when he compares Perry to a serial killing Hannibal: “She’s a beast/I call her karma/She’ll eats your heart like Jeffrey Dahmer.” The available bonus tracks (the John Mayer-supported “Spiritual,” “Choose Your Battles” “It Takes Two”) hardly do anything to brighten Perry’s star.

Of course all eyes are still on “Roar,” a brilliant piece of instant karaoke wrapped up in a multidimensional haze, feels like a mid-grade exercise when compared with Perry’s finer moments, especially when her copy-and-paste lyrics tend to fall a step below the creativity of Ke$ha: “Now I’m floating like a butterfly/Stinging like a bee I earned my stripes/I went from zero, to my own hero.”

At best, Prism lives up to most people’s expectations. It has two or three singles ready to be launched: if the raging power ballad “Unconditionally” and “Birthday” aren’t released as singles, the world would be coming to an end. Prism doesn’t have the instant gratification that Teenage Dream possessed, but Perry is trying on new dresses and new sizes, even if some are just too loose on her figure. She’s trying to morph into a Madonna, even if the mob of Madge supporters is at odds with that assessment. Mistakes and all, Prism is still going to be a challenge to resist. If the radio gods has their way like they did last time, Perry’s starpower will go up an extra notch.

 


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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