ARTPOP Review: The Album
Writing a blog a day meant I could talk at length about some of the more interesting moments on ‘ARTPOP’, but that’s not to say that the best has already been covered. ‘Gypsy’ is the penultimate moment of the album and a truly magnificent high point in Gaga’s career – this ode to her fans sits beautifully under the metaphor of being a gypsy hopping from stage to stage. The relentless ‘I’m i’m i’m i’m i’m i’m a gypsy gypsy gypsy’ is a properly crafted Gaga moment – she is the queen of repetition-tion-tion and when it all reaches the stunning finale as she lists of different places she now calls her home, euphoric doesn’t give true breadth to the enormity of the moment. It really should have been the final track.
Not much needs to be say about ‘Do What U Want’ and ‘Applause’ – on the record, they take a back seat, having done their anticipation provoking and give way to future singles that have even bigger worldwide appeal. The Janet Jackson undertones of ‘Sexxx Dreams’, which you might not have expected from Gaga after the seriousness of the ‘Born This Way’ campaign, is one of the prime suspects for a future single release, should a decent radio edit see the light of day. Or are we allowed to say ‘touch myself’ on radio now? Miley? RihRih? Let me know.
It’s slick production, courtesy of Mr will.i.am, also suggests that ‘Fashion!’ could be an interesting, if risky, single choice. It’s not a blatant rip off of ‘Blurred Lines’ or ‘Get Lucky’, but it’s emphasis on the driving bass line and throwback twinkling keys and synth-swooshes lend it nicely to the current chart trend. Not to be too normal however, Gaga slips in a massive ‘ethereal’ that leads us through the middle eight into a final bout of ‘Fashion F-Fashion’ that might eclipse the main hook as the catchiest moment of the track. Pretty clever way to get you hitting repeat.
The albums title track is a lot more subdued than you might expect – ‘ARTPOP’ boasts the most gorgeous laid-back production Gaga is likely to muster. The lyric referencing the album’s title is one of the most defining moments of the era as it articulates exactly what Gaga feels about the whole project – ‘free my mind, ARTPOP, you make my heart stop’. By contrast, no sanity is spared on ‘Swine’ which is one of the few efforts that falls short. It’s good, definite album material, but it’s downfall is that it could have been a pretty mighty industrial dirge had it been given a little more tweaking – Gaga squealing ‘Swine’ is a great idea, but it seemed a little hidden in the production, instead of a raw expression of angst that it should have been. That being said, the tense build-up as the electronics wind their way up to an explosion is quite something.
‘Aura’ is the only song that could possibly have come before ‘Venus’ and the only vocal performance that conveys quite as much insanity. Opening in a Tarantino-styled guitar twang, Gaga soon breaks down into hysterical laughter and the modern production smashes through the distant feel of the intro. It’s ‘ARTPOP’ by numbers in that it has verses of undeniable force that lead into accessible chart friendly choruses – Gaga tests you on the journey but always rewards you with an instant, affecting refrain at the end of it all. After all, the album is a fusion of ART and POP, not just two single entities and, whether the art fanatics or the pop diehards will be inclined to agree, as a mainstream album, ‘ARTPOP’ is brave, unique and a defiant step forward that brings new light, interest and attention into both of the worlds she frequents.
Words: Simon McMurdo