Pop superstar Katy Perry has dominated the charts for the past decade, and looks likely to continue with her fifth album Witness.
Overall, the album relies heavily on synthesizers, pushing Perry in an electro pop direction. Hey Hey Hey is a great example, where she self-assuredly refers to herself as “Marilyn Monroe in a monster truck”, while the industrial beat and warped vocals sound more Kesha than Katy. Mind Maze is similar, applying a heavy auto-tune and dancey synth runs, sounding like FKA Twigs’ debut.
Although the album is very synth-centric, Perry tries to find a song for every occasion. Single Swish Swish (featuring Nicki Minaj) is a classic lo-fi r’n’b track clearly intended for the club dancefloor, whereas the afro-beat bounce of Chained To The Rhythm would sit perfectly at a birthday party. Déjà Vu, meanwhile, is an inoffensive upbeat pop song which could be played in almost any shopping mall.
Musically, she hits her stride on Power, with distorted vocals “You can clip my wings, can’t wield my powers” in the chorus making a refreshing change from her usual, squeaky-clean tone. Despite some lacklustre lyrics in Tsunami, where Katy tries to reference water at every opportunity available, the moody wave-like drone, sparkly synths and squelchy bass notes make it instrumentally one of the most interesting tracks.
The final third of of the album feels unfortunately bloated and unnecessary. Bon Appetit is a particularly low point, where Perry’s constant food-related lyrics become increasingly more painful to listen to, with lines like “You could use some sugar, cause your levels ain’t right” pushing the song to comical levels. The whiney Save As Draft and closer Into Me You See attempt to be powerful piano ballads, but don’t really compete with earlier cut Miss You More, which feels far more emotive and genuine, with the refrain “I miss you more than I loved you, I do” coming across far more sincere than the self-confident theme that generally runs throughout the rest of the album.
Witness ticks all the boxes for a Katy Perry album, covering a broader spectrum than most chart-toppers, but it still doesn’t offer anything particular new or exciting. In her own words – “I think we’re running on a loop”.