A step back for the saviour of pop: Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP

artpopWHEN YOU CONSIDER the time scheme of pop music, it’s fair to say that New York’s Lady Gaga has been away from the scene for a fair amount of time. Her last album, Born This Way, released in 2011, was a successful effort, and spawned several hits, such as ‘Edge of Glory’, ‘Judas’ and the title track. So, 2 years since Gaga last rocked the Pop scene, can she bring experimentalism back to it, and still produce radio-friendly tunes with Artpop? There’s no doubt that lead single ‘Applause’ certainly has all the signs of classic Gaga, but how does the rest of the album fair?

Artpop is without a doubt, one of the most anticipated albums of the year, up there with the likes of Random Access Memories and Reflektor. So with all this pressure, one would hope Gaga would be able to deliver. Unfortunately, when compared to The Fame and Born This Way, Artpop is a bit of a disappointment. The album feels bloated, with 15 tracks, and not enough catchy, standout tracks to make listening to it in one sitting particularly easy. Gaga obviously takes strong inspiration from French duo Justice on several tracks, incorporating chunky dance bass lines and Electro riffs, a great formula, which is unfortunately overused. Elsewhere, Gaga’s collaboration with Twista, T.I. and Too $hort, ‘Jewels N’ Drugs’ feels all over the place, and mispronunciation and shouting are prevalent on tracks ‘MANiCURE’ and ‘Swine’.

Penultimate tracks ‘Dope’ and ‘Gypsy’, made out to be some of the peak tracks in Artpop are duds, with the former lacking the electricity of other Gaga tracks, and the latter feeling like a generic pop song. Gaga’s choice of lyrical matter is also a bit of a letdown; gone are the political references from Born This Way, Gaga deciding to go back to the lyrical content of The Fame, most notably in songs ‘Sexxx Dreams’ and ‘Jewels N’ Drugs’.

I’d be lying if I said there weren’t standout moments on the album however. ‘Aura’ and ‘Venus’ are both great openers for the album, the former of which opening with Gaga’s crazed laugh before going into fantastically dark synth pop. ‘Sexxx Dreams’ is another darkly sexual track, featuring a fantastic drum track, and really exhibits Gaga’s vocals well. Elsewhere, ‘Donatella’ documents the harshness of the fashion industry, and Gaga describes the brutality perfectly. Her collaboration with R. Kelly on ‘Do What U Want’ lives up to the hype and provides the listener with a funky, upbeat dance track. As always, Gaga’s vocals are standout on the album, having really developed since we first heard her all those years ago on ‘Just Dance’.  It’s just a shame that these moments don’t resonate throughout the entire album, and are merely limited to a few songs.

While Artpop is by no means a dud, it is neither a standout album of the year. In some respects it almost feels like Gaga has taken a step back from her previous work, instead of advancing forward. From here, it would be nice to see Gaga move on to something completely new, and then perhaps she’ll be back in the limelight, as Pop’s saviour.