Album Reviews

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By:Tiffany Chang and Neil MacAlister

Witness by Katy Perry

It’s been four years since Katy Perry has released new music and she’s making an explosive return to the spotlight with her latest studio album, Witness. The pop icon is known for catchy beats meant to be fun sing-alongs when you’re in the car with your friends, like her previous projects Prism and Teenage Dream. This album showcases this with the first single, “Chained to the Rhythm,” but the similarities end there. While listening to the tracks, they gave me an eerie feeling that I honestly wasn’t expecting. Quite a few songs speak about gaining a newfound confidence as well as finally breaking free from a low point in one’s life, including “Power” and “Bigger Than Me.”

Overall, it exhibits a darker side of her we’ve seldom heard before. What surprised me the most was “Save as Draft,” an emotional ballad amongst the fast-paced tunes that anyone can relate to who’s gone through and is continuing to go through many hardships in life. The clear expression of vulnerability is what the fans will love. If I were to add any critique, however, what I would’ve wished for is a little less autotune. She possesses a very unique tone and a pretty falsetto, neither of which need heavy synthesizing. For those who’ve listened to her since she first started, Prism and Teenage Dream are amazing and personally two of my favourite albums, so I would recommend them over Witness. Despite this, one can’t deny that she’s evidently maintaining her track record of quality music and it won’t disappoint. – TC

Saturation by Brockhampton

Brockhampton is a collective of 20-something-year-old rappers, singers, and visual artists who, after meeting each other on Internet rap forums, decided to uproot their lives and buy a house together in LA to form what they call an “all-American boy band.” They arrived on the scene with a series of singles and a debut mixtape last year, but with Saturation, their first official album, Brockhampton has established itself as one of the most exciting collectives going.

Kevin Abstract’s innovative artistry, Dom McLennon’s phenomenal writing, Merlyn Wood’s chaotic Patois, bearface’s punk screams and tender falsettos, Ameer Vann’s show-stealing cadence and flow, and more, are all interwoven into emotionally-complex and immaculately-conceived tracks. Tales of complicated love, generational anxiety, experiences of prejudice and intolerance, and, ultimately, finding solace through art and companionship are central to Saturation. In essence, it’s an album about being young, scared, and determined, delivered by some of the most talented young artists in the industry. They manage to mix hip hop, pop, punk, and anything else you can imagine into one of this year’s best albums. – NM

Ctrl by SZA
SZA is one of Top Dawg Entertainment’s most underrated artists: a St. Louis-born singer with a stirringly powerful voice and knacks for soulful R&B and deeply personal songwriting. Ctrl is an album about relationships, but each song addresses the concept from a different angle. For SZA, love isn’t simply a feeling of joyful intimacy; it’s a complicated emotional journey that threatens her very mental state. She isn’t afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve, admitting to everything from sleeping with her boyfriend’s friend on “Supermodel,” to questioning her own self-worth in periods of loneliness on “Drew Barrymore.” The central concept of the album is, of course, control and the desperate need to maintain some sense of it in a relationship, even if it proves destructive to yourself or those you love. SZA’s insecurities threaten her every step of the way, but throughout Ctrl she firmly establishes her confidence and empowerment. It’s a complex sexual odyssey, delivered from an artist with a deep-rooted love for soul and R&B, that gets better and more intricate with each listen. – NM