Pop singer-songwriter Katy Perry released her latest album “Prism” on Tuesday. It follows 2010's massively successful “Teenage Dream.” On her new album, for the most part, she pulls back the from the glossy electro-pop production of “Dream” for something more organic and personal. The 13-track LP sees Perry trying her hand at different genres but she mostly explores more meaningful mid-tempo numbers. Aside from some lyrical misfires, “Prism” is a pleasantly light and feel good pop record.
The album's best is “Walking On Air,” a flamboyantly fun dance track. Perry reaches back into the '90s for a different sound. Her airy voice floats over house beats as she sings, “Tonight I'm walking on air.” The flow of song is interrupted with the clunky lyric “You're reading me like erotica / Boy, you make me feel exotica.” Katy gets back up though when she digs deep vocally and tries to channel those big voiced divas of dance floors past in the line: "Heaven is jealous of our love, oooh yeah." It's a sweet little love song rich in retro pop goodness.
On a different tangent, Perry dabs in trap music on “Dark Horse.” She plays an enchanting seductress and comes on strong, singing, “Make me your Aphrodite / Make me your one and only.” Juicy J supplies a rap that does nothing for the whimsical yet bass-heavy track. “Dark Horse” is still a treat on the ears and it doesn't hurt that the body can get down to the big beats as well. Some more upbeat numbers include Katy's deliciously sweet nod to '90s Mariah Carey on “Birthday” and the shimmering pop-rock track “International Smile.” She gets caught up in her globetrotting lyricism on the latter with the cheesy line: “She's a little bit of Yoko / She's a little bit of 'Oh no.'” That oh no is a only a slight blemish on an otherwise slick pop track.
A majority of mid-tempo songs comprise the rest of “Prism” and this is where Katy really shines bright. The most gorgeous of the bunch is “Double Rainbow,” a dreamy lullaby on love she wrote with singer-songwriter Sia, the woman behind Rihanna's “Diamonds.” Perry drives home her power of love message on “Unconditionally,” another album standout. Over some Coldplay-styled production, Katy gives a very heartfelt performance when powerfully sings, “Open up your heart and let it begin.” It's not all love and rainbows though as she touches upon her divorce with Russell Brand on the glowing “Ghost.” “You sent a text […] oh but you hit send and disappeared in front of my eyes,” she reflects as a heartbroken woman.
Perry really gets going on “Roar,” the album's mighty first single. Booming beats and tinkling synths back her as she confidently declares, “I am a champion and you're gonna hear me roar.” Katy sings the heck out of the track's uplifting chorus, channeling an Adele-like rawness. Lyrically, she strings together a bunch of sports-related catchphrases (“zero to hero,” “eye of the tiger”), but does so in a way that gets her uplifting agenda across. On “Legendary Lovers,” Perry tries to do the same, embracing an Asian music sound with dated culture clichés and corny lines like “I feel like lotus bloom,” which fall flat completely.
“Teenage Dream” must have been a difficult to follow because it was such a solid record but Perry pulls it off for the most part with “Prism.” Instead of going for a familiar sound, she delved into different genres, made the album a lot more personal and still had fun along the way. There might have been a few missteps but Perry truly found her voice on “Prism.”
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