After a three-year hiatus and an Oscar for her role in the critically-acclaimed film “A Star is Born,” Lady Gaga has made her return with her highly-anticipated sixth studio album “Chromatica.”
Lady Gaga is no stranger to creating numerous fantasies and personas that fluctuate with her album cycles, from Mother Monster to the self-loving preacher on “Born This Way.” The pop star and NYU graduate has always been a master of the sociology of fame as a spectacle, and she knows exactly how to use it to her advantage.
And that grandeur is mirrored sonically on this record. Gaga recently made a departure into a more folk-leaning and soft-rock sound on her previous album, “Joanne,” and on this new record she returns to her house roots with a majority of the production done by Michael “BloodPop” Tucker, who has worked with the likes of Britney and Madonna. From the chunky basslines on “911” to the prickly, cascading synths on “Stupid Love,” this record shows Gaga aiding her listeners through the trials and tribulations of dealing with difficult life situations and encouraging everybody to dance while doing it.
Lady Gaga has stated that this album celebrates love, kindness and healing. She also reflects on the state of the world and how it connects with her constant struggle to live in the public eye. The album is separated into three-acts, each of which have their own orchestral breakdowns that all seamlessly transition into the following tracks.
Her impeccable vocal abilities shine on tracks like “Fun Tonight,” and “Enigma,” which show off her towering head voice and that iconic raspy falsetto that she belts with her whole chest. On “Free Woman” she takes control of her narrative and vindicates herself of her past trauma (“This is my dancefloor I fought for/A heart, that’s what I’m livin’ for”), and with “Plastic Doll” she reveals that she often grapples with guilt and shame over fitting the “perfect” pop star archetype, which has been used to dehumanize her and other women in pop (“I’m state of art, I’m microchipped/Am I your type? Am I your type?”).
The features are sublime as well. I was skeptical at first to hear her on a track with Ariana Grande, but their chemistry with “Rain on Me” was impeccable. “Sour Candy” has the iconic synth riff that was clearly plucked from all the nineties house anthems like the Swedish-produced remix of Robin S’s “Show Me Love,” and the Full Intention remake of “So In Love With You” by Duke. In addition the guest vocals from K-Pop supergroup BLACKPINK were an absolute highlight.
The third and final act on the album has an Elton John collaboration (“Sine from Above”), and a penultimate track (“1000 Doves”) that reflects on the importance of communities uplifting one another and showing kindness (“Lift me up, just a small nudge/And I’ll be flying like a thousand doves”).
The closer “Babylon” is an unapologetic house banger with a blaring saxophone and a choir. The lyrics celebrate survival and endurance (“Talk it out/Babble on/Battle for your life/Babylon”), and paint a picture of everybody in her circle voguing at a nightclub while serving Ancient Mesopotamian realness.
Lady Gaga has always transcended space and time with her art, and “Chromatica” is guaranteed to provide a sense of healing for listeners and devoted fans who need an outlet to escape the perils of their lives in the current state of the world and just dance.