It’s make-or-break time for Santa Barbara native Katy Perry as she releases her sophomore album, Teenage Dream. The follow up to 2008’s platinum-selling One of the Boys, her new album could either flop or secure Perry a long career in the music business.
She cleverly cashes in on the Bieber crowd, though, with this latest 12-track disc touching on her wild-child teenage years. What distances Perry from other teen pop singers is that she matures the album’s message by singing of losing her virginity (“Hummingbird Heartbeat”) and wanting to be “your lover, not your fucking mother” in the rock-infused “Circle the Drain.” The album is a solid set of retroactive throwback ’90s pop with a contemporary electro edge.
The album’s best cut is the Dr. Luke-produced “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” featuring Perry’s playful lyricism about blacked-out nights of drunken debauchery and the messy morning aftermath. The upbeat track gives Perry’s vocals an indie-pop vibe as she leisurely sings of recalling the night she can’t remember over funky guitar flourishes, synthesizers and a Saxophone-driven middle section reminiscent of Saturday Night Live’s opening theme. This is the closest to ’90s pop Perry gets, but she gives the brilliant track a modern twist with the Facebook-relatable lyric, “Pictures of last night ended left online / I’m screwed, oh well”.
“The One That Got Away” is an enchanting mid-tempo number that perfectly encompasses the track’s lost-love theme and Perry’s ethereal daydream world of what could have been with its tinkling piano, soaring strings and strong drum backbeat. Perry’s lyricism shines once again on this track as she perfectly captures the vulnerability of puppy love with cutesy, musical allusions like “I was June and you were my Johnny Cash.”
Perry gets her “Hollaback Girl” on with “Peacock,” an electronic cheerleader jam about her wanting to see a man’s reproductive organ. Surprise! The track is not actually about the bird. Katy, you’re so clever. Though the song’s message is pretty simple and straightforward, the catchy handclaps and a wall of synthesizers during the addictive chorus make the track a standout.
On “E.T.”, Perry invokes her inner rock goddess with the song’s heavy instrumentation and anthem-like chorus. The track about an out-of-this-world love is a testament to Perry’s versatility in being able to crank out the standard dance-pop fanfare, like vibrant first single “California Gurls,” while still sounding just as great with a massive rock number.
With Teenage Dream, Perry pulls out all the stops to avoid becoming another one-record wonder with the album’s big choruses and buoyant yet bouncy production. The set is packed with hit after potential hit of undeniable pop tracks. Will Katy strike out in the music industry with the release of this latest album? Dream on.