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Katy Perry, ‘Prism’ – Album Review

Katy Perry Prism Cover
Capitol

Despite a period of darkness and unrest in her personal life that took place in between the release of ‘Teenage Dream’ and ‘Prism,’ Katy Perry chose to let the light in. And that’s what ‘Prism’ is all about.

But make no mistake. Perry most definitely mines her pain and channels it through many of her songs, making the album feel like a therapy session for her and her fans.

That honesty and personal touch is what will connect the album to her most diehard and dedicated Katy Cats and beyond, since everyone goes through breakups that find them curled up in a fetal position on the floor, suffering through immense emotional pain and questioning whether or not they want to go on.

The album is a mixed bag of upbeat, life-affirming songs, lite bangers (not ‘Bangerz’) and melancholic, reflective songs that sound, feel and are very much influenced by her broken marriage to Russell Brand, since it’s always darkest before the dawn.

Fortunately, Perry isn’t down for the count. She cycles through the grief in a few songs, and comes out the other side, emerging the victor by the time the last note fades.

1. ‘Roar’
What can we say about a song that was a smash for two months ahead of the album’s release? ‘ROAR’ is one of Perry’s best songs E-V-E-R, with its punchy chorus, empowering lyrics and crazy catchy singalong parts. It’s the anthem of all anthems in her vast catalog, which has more than a few anthems!

2. ‘Legendary Lovers’
Perry celebrates finding love in this da-dum, da-dum, synth-driven track, which is backed by tribal, jungle-like percussion in the midsection. It could veritably become the album’s sleeper hit.

3. ‘Birthday’
Floaty, downtown NYC pop beats from the ’70s and ’80s populate ‘Birthday.’ Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus have also incorporated similar sounds into their songs. We could envision Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte on shopping spree in a ‘Sex and the City’ montage with this song in the background. Perry’s signature sass comes not when she sings about birthday cake but about getting you in your birthday suit. Rawr! Or ‘ROAR.’ PS: Why do all pop divas have birthday songs? Rihanna did. Selena did. Now Katy does.

4. ‘Walking on Air’
Perry goes the lite EDM route with this track, a banger done in the adult contempo Katy Perry way. This is not like ‘Work Bitch,’ which is full on “untz untz untz” house. Instead, ‘Waking on Air’ is much kinder, gentler and poppier take on EDM that will get many bootays on the dancefloor.

5. ‘Unconditionally’
‘Unconditionally’ is a roomy, expansive, epic anthem, one that shares DNA strains with her previous smash ‘Firework.’ The album’s second single is KP at her most uplifting, and it finds her letting so much light in that she shines brighter than the sun.

6. ‘Dark Horse’ Feat. Juicy J
This Juicy J-assisted number is the moodiest track on the record, but it’s catchier than chicken pox at a grammar school. The song is comprised of his raps in the intro and bridge, as well as a piano melody, fingersnaps and an undulating hip-hop beat. Lyrically, the song warns a prospective suitor to tread lightly and to proceed with caution, since her love is powerful, passionate and shouldn’t be messed with. It’s more like hip-pop, especially in its production values and elements.

7. ‘This Is How We Do’
No, this is not a Rita Ora cover. It’s the most urban, “strut my stuff” song on the record, both super fun and funny. When Perry sings about sippin’ rose, maroon lips, big hoops and grabbin’ tacos while checking out hotties and gettin’ her nails did, it’s like a sanitized, PG-13 Kesha. There’s even a shout out to the ladies eating breakfast in last night’s clothes. It’s an ode to partying without consequence. There’s also a false outro and she quotes Karmin. Wait, what? Oh, just listen.

8. ‘International Smile’
Perry celebrates the jetset lifestyle in shimmery pop fashion. The song is a bit of a novelty, thanks to the voiceovers, but it’s cute. It’s possessed of a disco-y midsection and if this doesn’t have you dancing and singing into a hairbrush in your bedroom mirror, you truly are a wallflower.

9. ‘Ghost’
‘Ghost’ starts slow and builds its tension. She recalls a text and things changing with the wind, which is a reference to her divorce from Russell Brand. “We were best friends / And we were building a life” — yep, that sounds like Mr. & Mrs. Brand. It’s sad, but the song begins to expand and its pulse quickens. But when she says “Rest in peace” and “See you on the other side,” it sounds like someone has died. Perhaps half of her heart did when they split. Brand and Perry were married, and that’s supposed to be forever.

10. ‘Love Me’
‘Love Me’ is airy, ethereal song with synths and finds her questioning her insecurities, which she no longer negotiates with, and learning the lesson that she had to learn to love herself before she could truly love someone else. It’s a thoughtful and profound track that looks inward.

11. ‘This Moment’
‘This Moment’ is big, bold electro pop track with a bit of an ’80s movie montage sheen, powered by a thumpy beat. It finds her musing about our state of constant movement as human beings. Life is one big treadmill and we pop what’s prescribed, and Perry challenges the listener to think about living in this moment, unassisted by anything other than being.

12. ‘Double Rainbow’
A single rainbow is pretty amazing. But a double rainbow? That’s pretty colorful. The song is wistful and whimsical, thanks to her vocals. Perry tries to hit a few higher notes here, which isn’t always a good idea, since she is not a belter and her voice is too thin to stretch.

13. ‘By the Grace of God’
Perry closes the album on an emotional note with a piano-y power ballad. She opened with a ‘ROAR’ and closed with one, albeit on a totally different sonic level. The reflective song, during which Perry talks about the fall and finding herself on the floor, in a heap, finds her backed by other vocalists. It’s raw, and she bares her heart and her soul.

Deluxe Edition

14. ‘Spiritual’
This deluxe edition track is a sultry, groove-laden song, thanks to the beats. It smolders, as Perry sings about love, a popular and recurring ‘Prism’ topic.

15. ‘It Takes Two’
The song starts out with Perry wondering if mercury is in retrograde over a militaristic, building beat and you can pretty much predict that it’s going to develop and explode. The song has similar melodic bluster to ‘ROAR’ and once again finds the singer questio=ning the loves in her life.

16. ‘Choose Your Battles’
Perry doesn’t shy away from synths, which this track features as the base. It’s another love-gone-wrong song, where she refers to her “hurt locker lover” and compares being around him to walking through a minefield. The tension of the lyrics is conveyed in the music.

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