Katy Perry's new album Witness smacks of desperation

Katy Perry's latest album Witness.
Katy Perry's latest album Witness.PHOTO: CAPITOL RECORDS

REVIEW/ ELECTROPOP
WITNESS
Katy Perry
Capitol
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Pop star Katy Perry's attempts at staying relevant in a post-Taylor Swift world come off as desperate in her latest album Witness.

She dips into new music styles such as house, future bass and R&B throughout the 15-track album, where she has employed a bevy of producers, including longtime collaborator and pop music super producer Max Martin.

But the results are uneven. The mismatch between cool production and weak, idiosyncratic lyrics is the biggest letdown on Witness.

In Swish Swish, a supposed diss track with rapper Nicki Minaj, she takes weak digs at Swift: "A tiger don't lose no sleep, don't need opinions from a shellfish or a sheep". But at least sampling British DJ and dance music producer Maya Jane Coles' Who They Say for the addictive bass line makes the track current.

The driving house beat on Deja Vu comes courtesy of future house proponent Hayden James (Something About You). But yet again, inexplicably bad lyrics make an appearance: "Your words are like Chinese water torture, and there's no finish line, always one more corner".

It happens again on funky, 1980s synthesizers-laden track Pendulum, which is produced by Jeff Bhasker, who was behind Harry Styles' critically-acclaimed debut album. A gospel choir lifts the track but the weak, uninspired chorus - "It's a pendulum, it all comes back around, it's a pendulum, it's a pendulum" - weighs down a perfectly good song.

 

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Power, produced by British singer-songwriter Jack Garratt, deftly samples the saxophone refrain from Smokey Robinson's Being With You, while Canadian electronic music duo Purity Ring contribute dance floor-friendly trance production to Mind Maze and Bigger Than Me. But their cool does not seem to have rubbed off on her.

Then there is her disingenuous trumpeting of "purposeful pop", or pop music with a message, with the release of her first single, Chained To The Rhythm ("So comfortable, we're living in a bubble, bubble, so comfortable, we cannot see the trouble, trouble"). But the call to open your eyes begins and ends with that song.

Perhaps Perry should take a leaf from her own song Pendulum in which she sings, "So don't try and reinvent your wheel", and stick to the power pop she is so good at doing instead.