Review Summary: A "personal message" can only go so far when the quality of the music lets it down.
Even if you don't like Katy, there is something to be said for a girl like her- she loves her fans, she throws extravagant live shows, she has a wicked sense of humour, etc. She's a pretty admirable girl, from her humble gospel beginnings as Katy Hudson to spots on Vans Warped Tour and a pair of successful albums, and she sure didn't earn it all by doing nothing. In addition, she's gone through some tough times in recent years, with the divorce from Russell Brand being one of them... and given that 2013 has been a year for "personal albums", it only seems natural that Perry would join this bandwagon of sorts, where each musician "pours themselves out" to the fans or some such nonsense.
I find this funny, because despite all the hype surrounding Prism
, it's pretty much exactly what you'd expect from Katy Perry. Sure, it's a tad more serious than both of her previous efforts, but it's still exactly what you'd expect from Katy Perry. It's full of "anthemic choruses" and so vs where she really sings out. And in typical Katy Perry fashion, it's pretty much as uneven as it could possibly be. There's highs here that rival pop greats, and lows that would make even Miley Cyrus cringe. It can't decides if it's a "fun" album or the aforementioned "personal album"' and there's almost a severe mis balance of quality in the music. Yet, in a way, this makes the album even more listenable, in a strange way. Perhaps it's because she's so talented, she gets away with it? I'm still not sure, honestly.
See, if the leading singles from Prism
are any indication, the album is both really good and really bad. The lead single "Roar" is perhaps one of her worst songs ever, with a rather overdone beat, cliched lyrics and her typical chant in the chorus, and "Dark Horse" is such an unbelievably good song, with the slow beat, the unsettling synth in the verse and anthemic chorus- it makes it almost hard to believe that it came from someone who did a song as horrible as "Peacock". She still plugs producers like Dr. Luke, and it's downright obvious at times. And yet, there's still a sizable amount of good songs on here. "Legendary Lover" is definitely the best song on here, which mostly boils down to its sweeping chorus. It has such an epic feel that it's enough to dull the stink of the song that came before it, "Roar". Sadly, it is followed by "Birthday". That song can essentially be described as the "Peacock" of this album... enough said.
If yiure noticing a pattern here, it's most likely that the album has equal amounts of amazing songs and head-bashingly awful songs. "Unconditionally" is big, bold, anthemic and even despite the silly pronounciation of the word "Unconditional" in the chorus, it's fast pace, tension filled and eventually explodes in a satisfying way. "Ghost" is another especially amazing song about the loss of a friend- it's painful to listen to mostly because Perry has such a stellar voice, that she delivers with much gusto. But then there's also a song like "This is How We Do", a song that even Spice Girls would think twice about before passing as a B-side. As catchy and upbeat as it is, the lyrics are also downright dreadful ("Santa Barbara, chique, at La Super Rica, grabbing tacos, checking out hotties/This is how we do
"- that's just one of the lines).
And so it's quite unclear what Katy Perry is trying to do here. She claims this is her "personal album", but take that away and you still have just a typical Katy Perry album full of soaring highs and plummeting lows. The album goes back and forth between excellent and terrible, and comfortably so. And for that reason, it is hard to take the whole "personal album" talk seriously when the quality of the album let's it down. Yet, it's fun to listen to for this reason. She's talented enough that talent alone is enough to almost dull the album's schizophrenic feel, and for that she deserves some respect... at least.