Lady Gaga – Chromatica
With a tracklist seemingly created almost exclusively with the dance floor in mind, Lady Gaga boldly returns to the music scene with her sixth studio album, Chromatica.
An unapologetic love letter to electropop, the album boasts producer credits from noted DJs ranging from Skrillex to Bloodpop and Axwell (of Swedish House Mafia fame), giving a pretty clear indication of what’s to come.
In a slightly perplexing interview with Zane Lowe earlier this year, Gaga explained that the curiously named title relates all at once to “colours”, the “chromatic scale” in music, and “inclusivity and life and also a lot of what we see around us.” Right, then. Thankfully – unlike the labyrinthine description – the album itself is full of short and snappy tracks, which are much easier to navigate. Arguably the songs are even a little too short, with a handful clocking in at just under the three-minute mark.
Despite the distinctly party anthem feel of the album, Gaga delivers one of her most personal projects yet. In Fun Tonight – rumoured to be about ex-fiancé Christian Cirano – the pop veteran sings very pointedly: “…you love the fame, even though you know it causes me pain.” In 1000 Doves she pleads: “I need you to listen to me, please don’t leave me…”, proving that heartbreak and dance music don’t need to be mutually exclusive. Unfortunately though, bar the lyrics, neither song leaves much of an impression.
Delving even deeper, the up-tempo and dance-floor ready Free Woman reflects on the singer overcoming sexual assault, as she confidently belts: “This is my dancefloor I fought for…”, while 911 details her experience with antipsychotic medication.
No stranger to surprising collaborations – think Tony Bennett – Gaga teams up with everyone from Ariana Grande to Elton John and K-pop group Blackpink for this venture. Sour Candy is a track made for the replay button, despite – or perhaps because of – the mindlessly repetitive lyrics set against a cool house beat. Blackpink’s vocals are smooth, proving a perfect match for Gaga’s.
Gaga and Elton John make an unexpected pairing on Sine From Above, though it all strangely works. Maintaining a steady 90s club sound throughout, the song randomly shifts to frenzied drum ‘n’ bass at its climax. This doesn’t work quite as well, however, feeling out of place considering that the genre isn’t explored elsewhere on the album. The 90s club influence is also apparent on songs such as Alice and the disco-tinged Replay, to name but a few.
The runaway hit Rain on Me, featuring Grande, is unequivocally the star of the show. The synth-pop meets disco meets house tune has a frustratingly catchy chorus, while the futuristic video (much like the album’s lead single, Stupid Love) is Gaga at her over-the-top best.
In another questionable move, Chromatica inexplicably features three orchestral interludes, titled Chromatica I, II and III respectively. While hauntingly atmospheric as standalone tracks, the pieces don’t quite work within the context of the album. Clearly a feeble attempt to help set the tone for the world Gaga has created, they instead feel clunky and misplaced.
Much of the album feels slightly one-note, though for something so clearly designed with the sole purpose of getting listeners on their feet, perhaps that isn’t too much of a surprise. Despite some of the more serious subject matter, this is ultimately a light and fluffy affair that doesn’t ask for much, except that we get up and dance. In times like these, surely that’s all we need.
Chromatica is released on 29th May 2020. For further information or to order the album visit Lady Gaga’s website here.
Watch the video for Rain on Me here: