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ATP! Album Review: Katy Perry – Prism

It’s obvious what exactly it is Katy Perry is going for with her latest album, Prism, and were it coming from a new artist, it would be a wonderful first effort showing us just enough of what they’re capable of: an "A for Effort”, of sorts. The only problem is that Perry isn’t a new artist, this isn’t her first rodeo and she’s set the bar pretty high for herself. Unfortunately, she just doesn’t rise to the challenge. Where her other albums were catchy enough to score numerous chart topping singles that broke records, Prism becomes lost in a constant struggle to show that Perry is strong, and she’s risen above her divorce and that love isn’t “going to take her out that way.” It all quickly becomes bland and forced like the 28-year-old pop songstress is trying a little too hard to be a phoenix rising from the ashes of her sorrows.

That being said, there are some shining gems on the release. Opening with lead single ‘Roar,’ the radio friendly song that we are most accustomed to from the singer, Prism invites listeners in the best way it can, with something familiar. Bouncy keyboard and her strong underdog message has not only made the song popular with just about anyone tuned into Top 40s radio, but even with sports teams who have adopted it as their gameday anthem. (Here’s looking at you, Cincinnati Bengals, even if it only lasted for one game.) It is arguably the best choice for a single on the effort.

The second single, ‘Unconditionally,’ makes its appearance a few songs later, just in time to rescue fans from an early lull caused by the tracks that follow ‘Roar.’ The love song where Perry promises to “love you unconditionally” is one of the few that comes off like she’s actually singing from the heart and not just to make a hit. ‘Unconditionally’ has a great groove that balances out her vocals where she croons lovingly about all she’d do for her love, and while it isn’t exactly a new formula for the California-native, it is still well done.

One of the highlights - the highlight if you’re listening to the standard edition - of the album comes towards the end in the form of ‘This Moment.’ It has a sense of hope interwoven throughout that is sorely missing throughout the rest of the album. Noting that “yesterday is history,” the song focuses on living in the here and now and may be one of Perry’s best vocal performances, not just on Prism, but out of all her releases.

Of her added tracks on the deluxe edition, ‘It Takes Two’ shines brighter than the majority of what actually made the album, and it’s a shame it wasn’t included. It shows a side of Perry that makes her relatable as she states that it “takes two sides to every story” and that she isn’t that innocent in all that has happened. It’s the one song that feels completely, 100% honest and damn if it doesn’t feel good to get a glimpse of Perry when she is most vulnerable.

It’d be remiss of us to not note that the pop-singer can pack a punch on some songs, even if the effort is filled with more misses than hits. It’s just that Prism is marketed as the “darker” release, and while that is the case, Perry shines brightest when she isn’t trying so hard to pull out something other than the candy-coated confection she built her musical empire on. She had stated that she wasn’t looking to create an upgraded version of 'Teenage Dream' and she stuck to that. The only problem is, maybe a 'Teenage Dream 2.0' wouldn’t have been so bad.


Victoria Patneaude

Prism is out now via Capitol Records.

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