Time was, a new Katy Perry album was a real pop culture event. And in a way, that’s still the case. Her aptly-titled-for-a-world-in-turmoil sixth album Smile has now dropped – and it’s hard to ignore.
(Not least because of the strange synchronicity of its timing: Katy’s all over the news this week as her and fiancé Orlando Bloom have welcomed their first child.)
But if there’s a sense of anticlimax to Smile, as per many blockbuster albums these days and, while it’s painful to make the comparison, you can’t say this of Taylor Swift’s Folklore given its release strategy, it’s partly because so many of its songs have been out for yonks and don’t feel very ‘now’.
If anything, listening back to killer pop tunes like Daisies and Never Really Over is frustrating: they barely made a dent on the charts upon release, when a decade ago they’d have obliterated them.
Interestingly, Never Worn White and the fizzy Small Talk – the latter her best track in ages – don’t make the cut, perhaps to restore some balance. Although they are on the ‘fan edition’, whatever that means. (Perhaps that fans are more forgiving?)
Title track Smile was probably the album’s last chance of a big hit, but in the few weeks it’s been out, it hasn’t delivered either. And for this writer, something about it – perhaps the cold talk-singing, also present on Not the End of the World, and the glossy, tinny production – is quite emotionally unengaging.
Smile does does state its parent album’s theme with crystal clear clarity, though, as do album tracks like Cry About It Later and Teary Eyed. On the latter, Katy sings (this time with sweetness and warmth, over dreamy, sparse production): ‘Have you ever left, left yourself behind? Have you ever lied and just replied I’m fine? Cause I can see you’ve lost, lost light in your life.’
The orchestral strings of Resilient are especially light and lovely, and the lyrics (‘I am resilient, born to be brilliant’) delivered without a hint of arrogance.
Blockbuster self-empowerment anthems, including some of Katy’s own of yesteryear, are so overdone now that they ring hollow. These are still sugary and poppy, but register in different, more authentic gear.
And while nothing matches her arresting run of singles of eras past, this is almost a relief. Smile feels like a palate cleanser.
Furthermore, the relatable emotional honesty present is underscored by her openness in recent interviews – in which she has discussed the mental health difficulties she experienced following the critical mauling of her last album Witness.
If we’ve learned anything from KP’s reflections on all that, it’s that these days, reviews simply do not matter to a multimillion record-smasher. And neither should they – especially at such a special time in her life.
Besides, a mixed bag it might be, but from Champagne Problems – the cheeky and intelligent spiritual cousin of Chained To the Rhythm – to the Miley-esque country flourish of closer What Makes a Woman, there is plenty to smile about on Smile.
Got a Story?
If you’ve got a celebrity story, video or pictures get in touch with the Metro.co.uk entertainment team by emailing us email@example.com, calling 020 3615 2145 or by visiting our Submit Stuff page – we’d love to hear from you.
Credit: Original article published here.