Katy Perry already has an impressive discography under her wing.  She has a gospel record, a rock album with The Matrix, a pop-rock record, and a record that is as pop as you can get.  PRISM brings a whole new element to the table with the majority of the songs on her senior LP being ballads.  Like the gap between One of the Boys and Teenage Dream, Perry lost and found love, so there is no shortage of inspiration on this 16-track album.

 
The album begins with the upbeat single Roar, the best pop track on the album.  The track is empowering, catchy, and gives listeners a burst of energy.  The lyrics aren’t the deepest on the album, but they are fun and a good representation of where Perry is in her life now.  The second track on the album, Legendary Lovers, is close to perfection.  It’s a softer song about finding love after losing love.  The song has a foreign sound to it, but that’s not a bad thing.  It is a well-written and catchy tune, and definitely among the best on the album.  Birthday is another poppy song. It’s about treating the person you love like it’s their birthday all the time.  The lyrics are cute and the chorus is catchy.  The only problem with the song is that being one of the only super poppy songs on the album, it should be catchy outside of the chorus as well.  It could be better but by no means is it a bad song.  The next song is Walking on Air, also one of the more poppy songs on the album, with strong dance beats incorporated.  The song is definitely tune-heavy, lacking lyrics — not lacking good lyrics, but lacking a variety of lyrics.  The song is pretty repetitive in that sense.  It is great for dancing to, but more lyrics could definitely have been added to make it a higher quality track.

 

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Track five — the second single — Unconditionally, is the polar opposite of Roar.  It is a power ballad with some of Perry’s most heartfelt writing on PRISM.  The song brings up her acceptance of her ex-husband Russell Brand, and asks him if he would do the same for her.  Dark Horse is close to perfect, but the featured artist, Juicy J, makes perfection quite a distance away.  The lyrics are creative, the song has a different, darker tone, and Perry sings in a lower voice than usual.  Unfortunately, a rapper plus terrible lyrics for the rap verse, degrades a song.  The next tune, This is How We Do, is even closer to perfect than the prior, but suffers the fate of a terrible wrap-up on the song.  The beat is great, the lyrics are fun, and it is the definition of the ideal song to perform at a concert with clear slots for audience involvement.  It’s a very poppy pop song.  It’s really too bad when the music starts fading out, Perry feels the need to say, “Wait, no, no, no, no, bring the beat back,” when the beat only comes back for a few seconds and Perry doesn’t even add any more lyrics.  The much wiser choice would have been just the let the fade out happen.  Track eight is International Smile, the song Perry wrote for her friend (who she refers to as her “muse”).   It is a lot more upbeat than most of the record, but sadly only two of the five super poppy songs are very well done,  and this is not one of them.  There is a good idea behind the track, and I have no complaints about the lyrics, but the song just doesn’t catch me — the beat and sound are weaker in this one.  The song is neat in the way that Perry took on the challenge of writing about a friend instead of a loved one or her own life, so I do applaud her for using the unique inspiration.

 

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Ghost is definitely one of my favourites from PRISM, if not my favourite.  It is about seeing her ex-husband Brand in a new light, or rather not at all.  The song opens with the melancholy verse: “You sent a text / It’s like the wind changed your mind / We were best friends / Yeah, we were building our lives / With every kiss, and every letter / Every promise of forever, oh / But you hit send / And disappeared in front of my eyes,” and it doesn’t let up throughout the rest of the song.  Perry’s writing on this track is superb and poetic.  Love Me is the anthem for people who are committed to their relationship more than anything else in life.  The writing gets across the message to love yourself before worrying about who loves you and not changing yourself for someone else, no matter how much you love them.  This ballad is definitely a beautiful one.  Track eleven, This Moment, will strike a chord with people who are stuck in the past or overly anxious about the future.  Again, the writing is the strongest part of the song.  “All we have is this moment / Tomorrow’s unspoken / Yesterday is history / So why don’t you be here with me? / All we have is this moment / To put our love into motion / Yesterday is history / So why don’t you be here with me? / Be here with me now.”  The next tune is Double Rainbow, a song about boyfriend John Mayer.  The song has a unique sound to it.  Double Rainbow is, again, another one of the very well-written songs on the record.  The beat and her voice are different from the rest of the tracks, leaving a memorable impression of PRISM.

 

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By the Grace of God is the deepest song on the album.  Perry croons about wanting to die after her divorce and about God being the only reason she got better and rose from her rut.  The writing and singing are the most emotional and deepest we have seen yet into Perry’s mind.  Unfortunately, the following song, Spiritual, is one of the album’s weaker songs.  It starts off pretty amazing, but the song goes downhill and just doesn’t hold up.  The sound of the song doesn’t jive with me all the way through is the best way to put it.  The chorus is great, but the pre-chorus is the worst part.  Perry opens up in It Takes Two, accepting responsibility for relationship issues.  This ballad is among the best of the album and sets a good example for all of us out there who pull out the blame card before looking at ourselves.  The song gives a good balance on loving yourself but understanding you are not perfect and love is a two-way street.  The final track is Choose Your Battles.  The song is about pointless fighting in relationships when you’re supposed to be on the same team.  Couples often nitpick and fight over every little thing, things that aren’t worth the stress,  and this song is the theme song for that issue.  Perry asks if the fighting is necessary through the lyrics, “You are my hurt locker lover / Keep me walking on a wire / Don’t know when you’ll blow / So I tip toe through your triggered mine / You fight me but I’m on your side / Defeated, now retreating / Why you trying to make me your enemy / All I really need is a little peace / I just wanna be your lover / Oh, this is not a competition / So baby why the ammunition / I don’t wanna be the last one standing.”  The album ends on a strong note with the closing lyric, “‘Cause I don’t wanna fight no more, baby.”

PRISM is the most inspiring album I have ever heard.  It is not perfect, but it’s darn close to it.  Almost every song is a musical masterpiece.  The album is extremely lyric heavy, leaving its mark on lyrics alone.  Perry has grown from her poppy Teenage Dream sound into a master at writing beautiful ballads.  PRISM is a new chapter, as the closing lyric would suggest.  Perry writes her deepest lyrics, portrays her best vocals, and sings her most emotional performances yet.  The album features only a few songs that are mediocre, while the rest are her magnum opus.  PRISM‘s deep and relatable lyrics make it an iconic record.

Buy it.

Songs to buy: Roar, Legendary Lovers, Unconditionally, Ghost, Love Me, This Moment, Double Rainbow, By the Grace of God, It Takes Two, Choose Your Battles

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  • tomvan

    Good review.