Review Summary: Secure the bag, sis.
I first started seeing Kim Petras's name in pop music spheres around 2017, with her guest feature on the Charli XCX song Unlock It
likely being the first time I had heard her voice. Assuming that she was just another by-the-bunch female pop artist, I paid no attention to her. It wasn't until 2020, when I discovered that she was transgender thanks to a Glamour Magazine interview that popped up in my recommended feed on Youtube, that I knew it was absolutely time for me to listen to this absolutely stunning and absolutely beautiful queen's music without further ado or hesitation. I slapped myself on the wrist for not discovering that she was trans sooner.
I listened to Clarity
and thought it was okay. I remember thinking that there was nothing exceptional about the beats or production, as this was around the time when Charli XCX and Jessie Ware had both dropped their quarantine-opuses how i'm feeling now
and What's Your Pleasure?
respectively. I didn't touch the album for about a year, until I recently decided to put it on after Spotify kept throwing it in my face in the "You May Also Like" section for Charli XCX. I would voice my surprise at how incapable I was of getting any one of these songs out of my head, even after just that second listen, but this is pop music we're talking about, and it will linger in your head for years, like the memory of a night with one of your past lovers.
I was not incorrect in my perception that the beats on Clarity
were nothing groundbreaking, but they don't always have to be in pop music. I was surprised yet unsurprised to discover that Dr. Luke, the producer who was accused of sexual assault by Kesha, was in charge of the beats on the album; the surprise coming from that Kim would work with him in the first place, and the lack of surprise stemming from not ever being wowed by Dr. Luke's work in the past. The focus of Clarity
is on the vocals and the lyrics, and with that I still have to give credit to Dr. Luke, for his choice of modest synth-pop-bordering-on-hip-hop beats do a good job of bringing out the best in Kim's performance.
Kim's singing is any combination of fun, soulful, happy, melancholic, depending on the subject matter of the song. The first two tracks, Clarity
, focus on Kim's road to success, particularly in the previous two years, according to interviews. The following tracks Got My Number
and Sweet Spot
, are the first of a few party anthems, in which Kim expresses her desire to dance and be a bad girl (remember that we're not critiquing Chaucer here). The middle section of the album has three sadder songs, the most visceral and my personal favorite of which is Personal Hell
, which is a song that I perceive to be about Kim's gender dysphoria and how it affects her relationships with men. The back half of the album is also solid (the quality of the entire album is very consistent), with the most notable tracks being Do Me
, a rather descriptive song about romantic and carnal sex, and Blow It All
, which is a banger about living the fast-track party life.
My initial opinion of Clarity
was soured by the fact that I was looking for something remarkable, but the truth is that Clarity
is remarkably unremarkable. It's a modern pop album, and a damn good one at that, but it does nothing that hasn't already been done before. However, I urge anyone who ends up having the same reaction as me after the first listen to not give up on it, because after a couple more listens you'll likely have some clarity of your own, as well as a new companion album in these trying times.