In August 2010, Katy Perry released her sophomore album, “Teenage Dream,” which was astronomically successful. It was the first album by a female artist to have five No. 1 hits. Songs like “Teenage Dream,” “Firework” and “California Gurls” made her a force to be reckoned with. Her divorce from British comedian Russell Brand in 2011 caused personal struggles for Perry, but her commercial success was steamrolling ahead. After a rerelease of “Teenage Dream” (“The Complete Confection”) and her documentary “Part of Me,” Perry got to work on her fourth studio album, “PRISM.”
Perry described this album as being darker than her previous works. Her divorce from Brand was expected to be the theme of the album in a Taylor Swift-esque manner. Although it was definitely an inspiration for “PRISM,” Perry’s heartbreak is not the only thing this album discusses. This album is more about what Perry learned from her experiences, and how she is using these life lessons to move on.
It would have been very easy for the lyrics and messages of “PRISM” to sound like a bad self-help book, but these ideas are displayed in such a mature way that you respect what Perry has to say. The song “Love Me” deals with the subjects of insecurity and self-love – ideals that could be generic and corny if not executed carefully. The lyrics, written almost entirely by Perry, are honest and sincere and hardly ever show a sign of cheesiness. “By The Grace of God” talks about her battle with depression and thoughts of suicide. This song is one of the best on “PRISM” because of its sheer vulnerability.
“It Takes Two,” easily the best song on the album, is about Perry accepting her role in the downfall of her and Brand’s relationship. She sings:
“It takes two, two sides to every story
Not just me
You can’t keep ignoring
But let me be first, baby, to say I’m sorry.”
She doesn’t take the typical, it’s-all-your-fault approach to a breakup song.
Although it does have its very serious moments, Perry fans will be pleased with the happier songs on “PRISM. Songs like “Birthday,” the carefree “This Is How We Do” and the ’90s pop-inspired “Walking On Air” are great breaks from the otherwise serious material. “Roar” is a great opener to the album, and “Unconditionally” is a positive love song that still has a radio-friendly beat.
Overall, “PRISM” is a stellar pop album with a sometimes dark twist. Its indie-like instrumentation and mostly positive themes make it a very easy listen while not being dumbed-down, bubble gum pop.
“PRISM” is by far Perry’s best release to date.
Brian Tank is a freshman at Nichols School.