This album can witness deez nuts
So I was supposed to write this last Friday, the day this came out but I got busy at work and the SZA review took longer than I thought. Also, my general opinion of the album was a lot more negative last week. I was scared that I would soften up with a fresh listen AND IT FREAKIN’ HAPPENED UGH.
In any case, guilty pleasure of mine Katy Perry released her fifth studio project Witness and apparently this was supposed to usher in her new era of “purposeful” or “woke” pop. Before the release, Katy dropped three singles which in my opinion were all very good. “Chained to the Rhythm” is a classic Katy song; high energy, prominent bass line, feature, and a decent little message. “Swish Swish” is good too with a hard synthy dance beat and absolutely dope Nicki Minaj feature. You know how I feel about “Bon Appétit”
Unfortunately, the rest of the album, save a few cuts, is generally disappointing. Not bad but disappointing. Katy was right, this is a departure for her but in atmosphere and sound palette; not so much in message. During my listens I was waiting for Witness to wake up and say something meaningful. This could have been me expecting something that wasn’t explicitly promised. A general theme was self-confidence, self-preservation and self-love runs through the album. Throw in a couple songs about love, a not so subtle metaphorical sex song and it’s not anything the artist hasn’t touched on before.
There are two big sins on Witness. The homogeneous production on a majority of the songs and then the writing. Concerning the production, the problem is not that it is all bad, it’s its sameness. Songs can sound similar (driving bass drums, synths, vocals) but I liked the ideas of some waaayy more than others. “Witness” and “Déjà Vu” are decent with the latter having really singable chorus and that dark electronic pop feel that characterizes the entire project. On the other hand “Hey Hey Hey” and “Roulette” give me no reason to care about them despite having a similar formula as the previously mentioned songs. The biggest problem is the writing. Holy moly it is bad. Like glaringly, distractingly bad. There are a ton of lazy, eye rolling similes and nothing that you have to think about or appreciate later. It is all surface level platitudes mixed with some truly awful lines.
“Your words are like Chinese water torture” Heavy Sigh
It’s not all bad though. Witness takes some influence from the 80s with its synth choices and random big drum fills (looking at you “Power”) but some of it totally works. “Power,” even with that dumb fill, is actually awesome. The fill is only out of place at the beginning but the stupid sax in the background more than makes up for it. The chorus is gaudy, loud and strong. The lead synth is crunchy and “electric as fuck” (her words…like they are in the song). “Mind Maze” is probably the weirdest song and despite the unnecessary auto-tuned lines, I like it a lot. The vocal melody is rhythmic and works well with the spacey, video game (not a bad thing) instrumental. The end of the verses tease the coming of a big chorus but nope not here. A ton of production went into this one and I really appreciate when experimentation pays off. “Tsunami” is slower and vaporwavy and right off the Drive soundtrack. I’m with it.
“Make me ripple till I’m wavy” lol
The best song on the entire album is “Pendulum” and it’s not even close. Let’s do it like this:
Our much coveted Katy Perry bass lines: Check
Interesting melodic verses: Check
GREAT Chorus: CHECK
Wait, is that a choir I hear?? Mmmmmm yep! Check
Fitting Bridge: Check
Drums drop out for singing and clapping: Check
Hell yeah, this song is phenomenal. *Adds to playlist*
“IT ALL COMES BACK AROUND”
So yeah, this album is alright. I’m glad I gave it a break before coming back to it. My feelings didn’t change too much but I did warm up to it a smidgen. Between the known singles and just a few decent new songs, I found myself not caring about chunks of the album. I’m still not convinced the singles fit the tone of the entire thing but still they are good. I counted the songs I liked vs the ones I didn’t and it came out close to even but I felt disappointed overall. Unfortunately I am 100% sure the radio will drown me into submission until I am in love with a majority of Witness.
Enjoy it here, bon appétit:
“IT’S A PENDULUM”
THIS SONG IS SOO GOOD