As much as modern pop music doesn’t generally appeal to me, I’ve still a soft spot for Katy Perry. Her tunes are generally upbeat, catchy and generally put everyone in a good mood – and that’s what pop music is meant to do. In her latest album, she keeps her bubble-gum brand of pop music going, whilst showing us that she can truly sing.
The lead single, “Roar” is perhaps the best representation of the album. It mixes a pop song with a ballad, being cheesy but still showing off a great singer. The rest of the album falls generally in one of the two categories.
Fitting the classic Perry mould are songs like “Birthday”, “This Is How We Do” and “International Smile”. Lyrically genius they aren’t, particularly the middle of the three, but they are fun to listen to and get stuck in your head. There’s definitely a more dance orientated feel to this album, echoing the vibe of songs you’d find on a Rihanna album or, to a lesser-extent, Lady Gaga’s albums. It’s a subtle change, but one that disappoints me slightly, that Perry wants her music to be more like the generic songs pumped out by other artists.
The boat is pushed out slightly on one or two of the other songs, into uncharted but interesting territory, counter-acting the mainstream vibe of the rest of the album. “Dark Horse” featuring Juicy J is perhaps Perry’s most R&B influenced song to date, providing a great beat and catchy hook. It’s a shame Juicy J’s breakdown isn’t nearly as good as Snoop Dogg’s star turn on Teenage Dream’s “California Gurls“. The ethereal Eastern influence on “Legendary Lovers” is also something different for Perry’s music, although the motif of love is lost beneath the tabla.
The last third of the album is almost entirely ballads about the end of Perry’s relationship with Russell Brand and her new one with John Meyer. Granted, her voice is impeccable in the songs, particularly in the closing track “By the Grace of God” where she returns to her choirgirl roots, but such heavy material has no counter-balance, and the time drags as you hear more of it. The songs individually hold up when heard shuffled amongst each other, but as an album leave you wanting a bit more.
On the whole, it’s a good album. For me, it’s not the summer smash-hit smorgasbord that Teenage Dream was, but it’s got enough catchy tunes and a few good vocal performances to strike a chord with the listener. A good album, but not quite what I was looking for.
You can listen to Prism by Katy Perry in full via the Spotify playlist below: