Chromatica is a sci-fi themed introspective journey into Gaga’s life.

8.0

Credit: Interscope Records/Lady Gaga

Verdict: a laser-shooting space adventure firmly rooted in personal, human experience.

It’s been a long time since Lady Gaga delivered big, blazing synths like this. Mother Monster has returned for a reboot series, and she’s now a full on alien goddess. Her mission? Not to invade and conquer the pop world as she did so proficiently 10 years ago, but to transport us to a new side of the galaxy all together.

Chromatica is Star Trek sci-fi meets Drag Race queerness. A zippy, grey-on-pink warp-speed journey, adorned with a colourful range of influences and all of your favourite characters along for the ride (including Elton bloody John!).

Not that they’re always used to best effect; the Rocket Man appears on ‘Sine From Above’, an over-dramatic euro dance infused tune that breaks into a jungle beat at the end for good measure. I’m undecided on whether it works.

Oddities aside, Chromatica is a very solid album overall, potentially even her best record to date. Split into three parts, she seems far more introspective and vulnerable than ever before. Her attitude of total body liberation, sexual freedom and unapologetic self expression remains, except now it feels more grown up – there’s an undercurrent of struggle and loss on many of the cuts, and it gives the whole thing a perfect amount of depth.

Case in point, ‘Rain On Me’. The fan girl in me exploded upon hearing the news that Ariana Grande was collaborating with her (only my two favourite pop stars in the world on the same track!), and they bounce off each other perfectly. Lyrics about getting through hardship and alcohol problems, a big dance beat and stunning production; this is Gaga flexing her pop prowess.

Almost as if we’re following her stream of conscience, every track analyses another aspect about herself. ‘911’, backed by a German House-inspired beat – a nice callback to her Fame Monster days – explores her experience with anti-psychosis medication (and packs a gorgeous pre-chorus; her voice is addictive on this cut). Meanwhile, ‘1000 Doves’ details how it feels to be under the microscope of fame in emotive, personal fashion.

Some will find the over-analysis tiring. Others, me included, will find it relatable; something about how she presents every track on Chromatica comes with the sense that we’re on this journey of self-exploration with her. It may be packaged in glitzy sci-fi campness, but its underwritten with a call to sympathise with her.

“Every genre feels specially selected, and they’d make for a fantastic playlist in their own right.”

So personal is the album that the sheer volume of pop influences she draws on make for a delectable experience in their own right. Opener ‘Alice’ is undeniably Disco; BLACKPINK collaboration ‘Sour Candy’ screams Deep House from the get go; ‘Replay’ calls back to the turn-of-the-century sound of Jamiroqai and Kylie Minogue; ‘Babylon’ takes the form of an early 90s voguing tune. Every genre feels specially selected, and they’d make for a fantastic playlist in their own right.

The way she uses all of those inspirations feels seminal. All are rendered in futuristic sheen, defiantly placing themselves as the sound of the 2020s. She herself has already earned a throne in the history of Pop, and in that light, Chromatica is her building a legacy.

The boldness of her older material is no longer as present, and this new album isn’t overflowing with catchy hooks. That, however, is besides the point: Gaga is getting everything off of her chest that she needs to. She’s reaching out to find sympathy with her listeners. On the album cover, she splays out in full starboot-Star Trek courture – as stunning as ever, yet more vulnerable too. As cheesy as it may sound, everyone can relate to at least one of the tracks on Chromatica.

Lady Gaga arrived in the pop world decreeing freedom and self love. A decade on, and it seems the one in need of that treatment is herself. But while her lyrics look inward, her sound projects outwards. Chromatica is a laser-shooting space adventure firmly rooted in personal, human experience. If we’re all going to be honest with ourselves and face our own battles, we may as well jazz them up a few starships, alien armour and lightyears of dance-pop beats.

This Lady Gaga, the alien pop goddess, no longer quite Mother Monster leading the charge for self love, but now the friend we all need.

Check out ‘Rain On Me’ and loads of other great new music on Sourhouse’s MUSICBOX playlist!

Munro Page

Munro Page is a music blogger and former student radio host based in Cardiff, Wales. He likes: thrift stores, cooking and parrots. He dislikes: chain restaurants, the M25 and Simply Red.

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