Album Review: 'Prism,' Katy Perry

Prism Album Art

Prism Album Art

Coming down off 2010’s wildly successful album “Teenage Dream,” Katy Perry had to find a way to outdo her own achievements and promote her newest album. And what better way to do that than to hire a gold 18-wheeler to drive across the United States to promote “Prism,” out Oct. 22?

Love or hate her, Katy Perry is the reigning Queen of Pop, selling millions of albums, breaking records, and topping charts worldwide. Perry’s latest studio album “Prism” sounds a lot like the uber-successful “Teenage Dream,” yet lacks the addictive catchy songs that made her previous albums a hit.

“Prism” is less bubblegum pop, more pseudo-moody songstress. It sounds like Perry’s attempt to mature and prove that she can do more than perform over-the-top pop hits. Unfortunately, it lacks what made Perry’s previous albums smash hits: By trying to steer away from her pop princess title, Perry produces lackluster songs that blend together, without anything to differentiate one from another.

“Prism” lacks originality and depth from the start. “Roar,” the first single off the album, sounds nearly identical to Sara Bareilles’ “Brave.” An eerily similar backing drum beat and bridge to chorus leads one to believe “Roar” is a bad rip-off of “Brave,” without Bareilles’ lyrical depth and vocal prowess.

With “Prism” Perry takes a page from the Taylor Swift songwriting manual and uses romance and heartbreak to fuel songs. “It Takes Two” (found on the deluxe version of the album) sounds suspiciously like a jab at Perry’s ex-husband, British comedian Russell Brand, whom Perry divorced in 2012 after a year of marriage: “It takes two / Two sides to every story / Not just you / I can’t keep ignoring / I admit half of it / I’m not that innocent.”

“Dark Horse” sounds more like an electronic/hip-hop remix than a radio hit from a pop princess. Contributor Juicy J, of Three 6 Mafia, brings to “Dark Horse” what Kanye West brought to “E.T.” -— a bit of hip-hop that feels out of place on the album.

While “Dark Horse” may be Perry’s attempt to show how grown up she is, her efforts mostly fall flat. From its position on the album — immediately following the slow tempo of “Unconditionally” and followed by “This is How We Do,” a spiritual ’80s hip-hop ballad — “Dark Horse” doesn’t fit. Perry makes full use of her considerable vocal range on the track but even that can’t save it from the synthesizer-backtrack mess.

On the last two songs on the album, “Double Rainbow” and “By the Grace of God,” Perry attempts to go lyrically deep and branch out from the sickly-sweet bubblegum pop that plagues the album. But the lyrics unfortunately switch between cliche, corny, or bland. Case in point: “Cause I understand you, we see eye to eye / Like a double rainbow, in the sky / Wherever you go, so will I / Cause a double rainbow is hard to find.”

However, you can’t fault Perry for her ability to perform catchy pop ballads that enchant her legions of “Katy Cats.” While “Teenage Dream” featured more instant pop hits, “Prism” has a few potential gems that take after the sound she is best known for, and represent the strongest aspects of the album.

“Legendary Lovers” sounds like the more mature Perry that she so desperately tries to portray throughout the album. A powerful bass line coupled with a nice hook make the song easy to listen to, even with the dreadful rhyming of lyrics. “Ghost” sounds like Perry from 2010 and has a dance-worthy chorus with the potential to be turned into a good-riddance breakup anthem: “And now you’re just a ghost / When I look back never would have known that / You could be so cold / Like a stranger vanish like a vapor / There’s just an echo where your heart used to be / Now I see it clearly / And there’s just a pillow where your head used to sleep / my vision’s 20/20.”

Holistically, “Prism” is scattered and dull, playing like a random assortment of songs, thrown together by Perry and her team in an attempt to show the world that she is more than the singer who once “Kissed A Girl.”

The Verdict: “Prism” will be another huge success for Perry but her attempts to branch out and mature are lackluster and fall flat overall.

Reach reporter Annaliese Davis at arts@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @anna_davis14

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