Friday, 25 October 2013

Katy Perry - Prism

Brace yourself. Cause there's not gonna be another album this year more meticulously crafted for radio than Katy Perry's Prism

I don't want you to confuse that as a compliment or a dig, it's a simple fact. With Teenage Dream selling over 5,000,000 copies worldwide, Katy also became the first female artist ever to have 5 US #1 singles from the same album. It's obvious that little feat has been put into play within every aspect of Prism, beginning with (the horribly overrated) lead single 'Roar' - a clichĂ© and vapid dud track that seems to be putting the pop world in a sugar coma.

Her strive for pop domination is apparent throughout the whole LP. 'Birthday' is laced with confectionery based innuendos ("make it like your birthday every day, I know you like it sweet, so you can have your cake, give you something good to celebrate") to which Katy Perry has never sounded more like Katy Perry. 'Legendary Lovers', 'Ghost' and 'Walking On Air' are certain to be cemented into your cranium on a first listen, whether you like it or not. 'Dark Horse' is a tad disappointing, as it's one beat drop away from being a decent song, but it's 'International Smile' that will needle pierce your eardrums, as Perry channels (or rip's off - your decision) the signature sounds of Daft Punk two thirds of the way through. 

Party Perry is met with equal force by Pensive Perry, as mid-tempo's and ballads play a part just as vital as Prism's upbeat dance tracks. 'Love Me', 'This Moment' and 'Double Rainbow' aren't the easiest to differentiate from one another, and 'Unconditionally' inspired by Katy's boo, John Mayer offers ...well, nothing.

All together it sounds and feels like a group of standalone singles from producer Dr. Luke's catalogue. The frequent collaborator with Perry as well as songwriter Bonnie McKee should explain why so many songs within Katy's discography sound so similar. Catchier than chlamydia, Prism is definitely one for fans of her previous album as well as those in love with Katy's sickeningly sweet candy shtick. 


Key Tracks: 'Legendary Lovers', 'Dark Horse' 'This Is How We Do'

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Miley Cyrus - Bangerz

I tried not to. I wasn't going to. But I found myself pulled in by the alluring statement that the fourth album by Miley Cyrus would be "nothing but Bangerz", hence the album title, 'Bangerz'. With such a strong statement, I'd already made up my mind that the album would feature incredible beats by Pharrell and Miley's new partner in crime Mike Will Made It (who worked on 7 out of the 13 tracks)… while lacking in pretty much everything else. Where my presumptions correct? Let’s see. 

We've seen this time and time again. The young female artist desperate to shed their former (Disney) skin, adopts a newer, "adult" or more "free" version of their past self. Rihanna was the good girl who went bad, Britney became a slave in a circus and of course, Madonna became just about anything and everything she could possibly lend her mind to. Now it's Miley's turn. Leaning more towards the R&B and Hip-Hop influenced side of pop, some of the most unexpected collaborations of the year take place on this album . Among Mike Will as the main producer, 'Bangerz' features guest verses from Big Sean, French Montana, Future, Nelly and Britney herself. Do they really believe she’s talented? Or are they just tryna take a ride on the twerkin' cash cow? No one knows for sure. But save for Big Sean, all other featured artists seem p-r-e-t-t-y disinterested on their own tracks. That should leave you with a clear answer.

When she’s not gassing about purp, Miley’s getting weirdly personal. 'Love Money Party' is cloaked with epic relationship turmoil's , gawking about how she's been through too many heartbreaks "for a human to take" while also being the "girl on the side". You'd never guess it would end up so due to the bumping freaky fairground sound of the track. 'Wrecking Ball' and album opener 'Adore You' are two of the strongest moments on the album, which as you may know, are both *TWIST* ballads. Not exactly what you may cite as a banger. 

The killer production is sadly few and far between. #Getitright is a dud while My Darlin' would be instantly forgettable if it wasn't for the line "I ain't pop no molly but you still got me sweatin'". The Country-Hop '4x4' is the 'Hoedown Throwdown' for nu-Miley, and 'FU' is a showtune tinged kiss-off that can't not be directed at former fiancĂ©e Liam Hemsworth. 

After multiple (yes, multiple) listens, it's safe to say this album, isn't exactly flowing with bangerz. The sorta title track 'SMS (Bangerz)' however is a Miami Bass sounding rager that'll probably be a single. Think Bring It On meets 'Baby Got Back' and there you have it. It's a shame that the rest of the album couldn't stick it the way this can. 


Key Tracks: Adore You, SMS (Bangerz), Wrecking Ball

Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience Part 2 of 2

Timberlake came back to finish what he started. Described as the more "experienced...older sister" to Part 1 released in March, the masses have been blessed with a total of 12 tracks from Timba & Timbo's second 2013 outing. 

Is it really a blessing though? Well, yes and no. Not so much of a sequel as it is another half of the same album, 'Part 2' once again features Timbaland as its main producer. His role is as prominent on both albums as Justin's is. You can hear some of the greatest production and melodies of the year on both parts for sure. The grand symphonic sounds are back ('You Got It On', 'Amnesia') as well as Timberlake riding the beat under Timbaland's bassy beatboxing ('TKO', 'True Blood' and once again...'Amnesia'). But what the two bring to this time around is the mainstream radio sound taking prevalence on ‘Drink You Away’ and ‘Not A Bad Thing’. This I don't love as much.

Justin proclaimed that the previous disc was music made for the summer, while the later is for the bleaker autumn/winter - which I don't really understand. There is nothing as icy or aloof as 'Blue Ocean Floor' from part one, and save for Justin dropping a few f-bombs it's in no way colder or more appropriate for the darker months. 
Justin’s voice is just as perfect as ever, and Timbaland once again crafts (or reserves) his best work for the former mouseketeer. But save for four of the albums tracks (‘Amnesia’, ‘Murder’, ‘True Blood’ and 'Cabaret'), the two fail to deliver a stellar conclusion to what kicked off at the beginning of the year. In all honesty it's best to just stick to those four, especially 'Cabaret'. With an amazing feature from Drake and cheeky lyrics such as "if sex is a contest then you're coming first" and "I got you saying Jesus so much it's like we're laying in a manger" it's instantly one of the best songs from either of Timberlake's 'Experience' pieces.


Key Tracks: True BloodCabaret, Murder, Amnesia