The new album from new mum Katy Perry is uplifting, bright, and easy to get into - but also plays it safe. PLUS Washington and blackbear
The new album from new mum Katy Perry is uplifting, bright, and easy to get into - but also plays it safe. PLUS Washington and blackbear

Katy Perry keeps it safe on latest album

This week's album reviews from The Courier-Mail (ratings out of five stars):

POP

Katy Perry, Smile

(EMI/Universal) ***

"Now you see me shine from a mile, finally got back that smile," the new mother chirps on her sixth album's title track Smile. Katy Perry is in full bloom and shows her growth and healing on her latest album, which shuffles between propulsive dance tracks (Never Really Over and Teary Eyes), holiday reggae (Harley's in Hawaii), and classic Perry pop ballads (What Makes a Woman). From power pop to "purposeful pop", Perry's a veteran at creating songs that mean something or at the very least boost your endorphins. Her latest release achieves that - just safely. At its best, the 12-track album is uplifting, bright, and easy to get into. However it lacks the edge or innovation that catapulted her earlier singles (Teenage Dream, Dark Horse) to No.1 on the charts, and sounds too familiar to solidify the songs as anthems. The album may not pack any fireworks, but it does sparkle, shine, and will make you smile.

Monique Pueblos

 

ALTERNATIVE

Washington, Batflowers

(Island/Universal) ***1/2

Also a new-ish mum, Megan Washington turns out her first album in six years, and her first since resettling in Brisbane. It's a pulsating set of synth-pop that sometimes threatens to disappear into the digital ether (Not a Machine). But despite being lushly produced and slickly electronic, it's bisected by the stripped-down lo-fi Catherine Wheel, which is purely voice and piano. The title track is an ode to a significant other's unstinting loyalty and effort, while Lazarus Drug showcases Washington's soaring vocals against a funereal electronic backdrop. "The only thing you gave me, I took a pill for," she laments on Paradise Lost. Playful The Give dissolves into rumbling, staticky bass. The harmonic pulse of Switches sports waves of synth reminiscent of Mutemath, while elsewhere there are hints of '80s new wave such as Split Enz, Mi-Sex and Ultravox. Moody-poppy single Dark Parts is an infectious highlight.

John O'Brien

POP

blackbear, everything means nothing

(Beartrap/Alamo/Interscope) **

This album for the age of the internet is explicit as f---, which you'll learn early on in its catchy opener hot girl bummer but is somehow oddly fitting for the current lockdown-ish landscape we're in. Blackbear aka Matthew Musto gets real when he sings about social media and the damage it causes to himself and those around him when he strays from his typical emo dance vibe in the strummy bubble gum pop queen of broken hearts. In i feel 2 much, distorted vocals echo his yearning to not feel too much or better, feel at all. everything means nothing sounds like the love child of a chain-wearing e-boy on TikTok and a twenty-something who loves Twitter and "anti-social social club" apparel. #relatable? Not very.

Monique Pueblos

 

Originally published as Maternal Katy keeps it safe on latest album


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