Right, let's not waste time here: this is an excellent, excellent album.
Lady Gaga has absolutely nailed it on this one, and she's done so by combining modern elements with the unmistakable sound of the 1990s. The phenomenal 'Alice', the album's true opener, could have been ripped straight from 1999, complete with snare build-ups, the house-y basslines and synth pads. It's fun, it's dancey, it's bloody brilliant.
The '90s influence isn't limited to 'Alice'; it can be found throughout the album, on songs such as 'Free Woman', 'Fun Tonight' and 'Enigma', all of which are pure joy to listen to. The 1990s were a different time, and in a rather depressing world in which even pop music tends to be a bit of a downer much of the time, a return to the carefree Europop sound is absolutely more than welcome and something which we sorely need right now.
Even when the record isn't being a '90s fest, it still draws from the more housey, joyful elements of pop. 'Stupid Love' is far more modern but still a bop, and the sensational 'Rain On Me' with fellow pop powerhouse Ariana Grande could so easily be a Sigala hit. Full of summer fun, this album is perfectly-timed as we head into June and July, and as social distancing measures hopefully ease - don't be daft, people - this album may become the soundtrack of the summer. It certainly wouldn't be a surprise.
And what of the collaborations? There's a gaggle of big names here, from the aforementioned Grade to South Korean girl group Blackpink, one of the most succesful acts of the K-Pop train. However, neither of them can compare to the genuine living legend that is Elton John, who appears on the obviously sublime 'Sine From Above', giving a tyically grand performance on a song one would think is rather out of his comfort zone. In the space of a few months, Elton John has guested on two albums - one with the Prince of Darkness and co-founder of heavy metal Ozzy Osbourne, and one with mainstream pop superstar Lady Gaga. Now that's what we call range.
Negatives? There's a bit of a mid-album lull, with tracks such as '911', 'Plastic Doll' and 'Replay' not quite on the level of the rest of the album, but they're still pretty good and certainly won't spoil the experience. After that, there's really not a lot else wrong with it. The songs are catchy, full of hooks, and there's a general air of positivity to the album that is sorely, sorely needed in these times of strife.
Lady Gaga has been a frontrunner of the pop scene for more than a decade now, but she's showing no signs of slowing down. As the album closes with the more early '90s, 'Vogue'-esque 'Babylon', it becomes clear that Gaga has released a genuine contender for album of the year. A big reason for this is that she continues to try new things and follow different paths whilst also staying true to who she is as an artist. This new record is up there with the very best in her catalogue and showcases a woman at the top of her game. An album full of zest, vigor and more hooks than a tackle shop, Gaga has delivered again. Your summer tune? It's on here somewhere.
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