Katy Perry has been out of the limelight since her fifth studio album Witness (2017), which is considered a critical and commercial failure.
Since then, Perry has suffered bouts of depression and has been working on herself. The self-reflection led to Perry’s sixth studio album Smile, released on August 28.
“This record is a representation that I overcame [the pain] and got to the other side,” Perry told Apple Music.
Unlike some of her previous albums such as Teenage Dream (2010) and Prism (2013), that are filled with stadium shaking anthems like Firework and Roar, Perry takes a much different approach in her latest effort.
The album features an 80’s pop-feel much like what we have heard this year from artists like The Weeknd. In it, Perry no longer sings about teenage dreams and devotes less time empowering the masses but instead focuses on themes of self-improvement and seeing the silver lining.
On the third track, Teary Eyes, Perry sings about dancing through her pain, which is a theme that comes up several times on the album in tracks like Cry About It Later and the album’s title track, Smile.
At times, it seems like Perry is reassuring herself as opposed to singing to her fans. Perry screams that it will all be alright, not to worry about a thing and to just keep dancing.
Aside from the positive message, the album sounds generic, which is a problem that most modern pop albums face. The production can be impressive at times—such as in the opening track Never Really Over, produced by hitmaker DJ Zedd—yet the lyrics come across haphazardly and very lazily thrown together. An example comes up on the closing track, What Makes A Woman, when Perry sings “I need tissues for my issues and band-aids for my heart.”
Perry dives into incredibly important mental health issues but seemingly chooses to stay at the surface level of said issues.
Smile is Perry’s shortest album to date, coming in at a meager 37 minutes. She also wastes time on a lot of tracks with common hooks instead of delving deeper into the subject matter of mental health.
Although the album lacks focus, it’s a fun album to dance to. If you are into the 80’s throwback trend that is currently dominating the charts, then this album is for you.