By Gabby Couter, Year 11

Katy Perry – Witness

This month, Katy Perry released her 4th studio album Witness and after her release of previous singles, I was partly excited, yet mostly worried about what was going to come. In ‘Chained to the Rhythm’ we see Perry explore the dance pop, throwback sound with a hint of synth pop flare, which overall made it a feel good dance track which I did not mind despite the fact that the chorus was overly multi phases and quite clunky. With the release of Swish Swish and Bon Apatite, we saw Perry experiment even more with this dance style, with Swish Swish, although lyrically not the best, being one of the more interesting tracks that she had released in year, with the throwback house beat emphasising her vocals, similarly in Bon Apatite, with the lyrics being extremely lyrically obvious and boring, yet the chill and groovy beat redeeming the title. Throughout this album, Perry experiments highly with new form and genres of music, and while some do pay off, most do not. In Hey Hey Hey, the stale dupstep-ish instrumentals create a boring and quite terrible sound while the lyrics are not even redeeming as they are probably the worst in the album with the metaphors she uses being overly cliché and quite stupid.   Her album overall, is quite inconsistence and while in some songs she tries to be laid back, in other she is extremely tense, for example, in Into Me You See, Perry displays this long winded piano ballad which is boring and overdone and honestly does not know when to stop. I think that Perry should have stuck to what she knows and does well, as the track Tsunami explores Perry’s familiar 80’s vibes, and through the restricted instrumentals, allows her singing to soar more than any other track on the album, making it one of the best. Overall, I think that this is one of Perry’s most bloated albums with unnecessary songs that needed to be refined.

4/10

Notable Tracks:

  • Swish Swish
  • Tsunami
  • Déjà vu
  • Pendulum

 

Sufjan Stevens, James McAlister, Bryce Dessner, and Nico Muhly – Planetarium

This month, Sufjan Stevens, James McAlister, Bryce Dessner, and Nico Muhly come together to create the immense album Planetarium, which takes a journey, song by song, through our solar system. This large album explores the mythology of the planets through Stevens’ vocals which beautifully tie in his past experiences and poetic thoughts, such as war, love, and his father. The wide array of musical styles can be accounted for the 4 artists, who each bring something completely different to the album. Dessner, through his versatile guitar work, adds a further layer of melody and texture and I find that there a many moments where he provides these small, yet extremely effective and beautiful guitar pieces. Muhly, through his background in classical music, brought along the large and grand orchestral horns, and strings, which actually worked very well in enhancing the vocals, and bassline, rather than drowning them out, which so often happens. McAlister throughout provides an engaging percussion through not only his use of traditional drums, but also the sequence beats and synthetic percussion, which overall adds this spacey feeling, and reminds me of Stevens’ Age of Adz album. The only complaint that I have with this album is that it is not an easy listen for two reasons. Firstly, because it is so grand and unexpected structurally, they hit the listener with so much, so fast, that even after multiply listens, it is hard to gain a sense of familiarity with the album, and secondly, I believe that the flow of the album is quite off. While listening to the album, I don’t believe that it runs smoothly as there are various interludes which seem unnecessary as they are in-between quite soft songs, while quite ambient tracks are put near other ambient tracks, which makes them seem as if they are merely an extension of one another. This makes it less of a holistic listen and leaves each song to fend for themselves which is especially not good for this album which is so bold with its planetary concept. Being such as huge Sufjan Stevens fan probably gives me some bias to this album, yet I believe that overall, it was quite good, yet just needed some further refinery.

8/10

Notable Tracks:

  • Uranus
  • Jupitar
  • Mars
  • Neptune
  • Black Energy
  • Earth

 

Arcade Fire – Creature Comfort

 

Through Everything Now and now Creature Comfort, it is shown that Arcade Fire will most likely being doing a dance, synth pop album, further exploring their ‘it’s not a phase Mum’ phase, and emphasising the dance which was hiding in the previous album Reflektor. I think that instrumentally, this track is certainly superior to the flaccid disco of Everything Now as it actually fully commits to the disco genre, yet lyrically, the song is a complete let down. I feel as if Win is being so extremely unpoetic with his lyrics, especially considering the topic which he is discussing, in an aim to make a statement about these issues just to get people to agree with him, as that is in vogue right now. I am intrigued to as to what Arcade Fire will be bringing out in the near future, as I am a huge fan of their previous work, yet this track was a bit of a letdown.

5/10

 

Selena Gomez – Bad Liar

 

This June, Selena Gomez came out with another single, and personally, I think her best ever. Built around the bassline of Talking Heads 1977’s hit ‘Psycho Killer’, ‘Bad Liar’ brings about a new charmingly weird side of Gomez which was hinted at in previous singles ‘Hands to Myself’ and ‘Good for You’. The light, spritzy song explores the romantic anticipation through the smart and witty lyrics, where she compares her love as being as subtle as the Battle of Troy. Gomez’s voice of this is very controlled and pristine, with the production containing her voice, keeping it purposely empty rather than beefing it up with excess reverb. This allows for her melody to shine through, while also giving way for her complex percussion to be heard. Through this song, Gomez pushes her vocals through prolonged notes which are slightly out of her vocal range, adding a further level of complexity and enhancing her stream of consciousness lyrics. Overall, I think that this is a great track that deserves a lot more praise than it is getting.

10/10

 

Calvin Harris – Feels

 

Calvin Harris, after his resurgence, has come back with yet another single in ‘Feels’ which explores the more energetic and fun side of Harris. This mega collaboration of Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, and Big Sean explore a melange of sound, including Mid 70’s tunes, Disco features, and even influences of Yacht Rock. Calvin Harris has definitely caught onto the rebirth of the 70’s rock style which is becoming more and more prevalent throughout the music scene right now. The descending bassline throughout the song gives a very enjoyable beat and makes the song an easy listen, while the electric piano throughout makes it more rhythmically excitable than his previous tracks. The one complaint which I have is that the lyrics are generally overly cliché to the fact that they become quite humorous, however there are some redeeming lines from Pharrell which does not make this much of an issue. Overall, this is quite a good track, yet does not compare to Harris and Frank Oceans musical genius with ‘Slide’.

7/10

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