PRISM (Deluxe Version)

PRISM (Deluxe Version)

There’s a joyous shimmer to Katy Perry’s third major-label album, PRISM, one that Perry herself didn’t expect to find initially. Going into her first few recording sessions, the confident, fun-loving pop singer struggled to find the light that so easily surrounded her previous album, the candy-coated Teenage Dream. That record launched her to extraordinary commercial heights, but she was struggling emotionally—both with the expectation to live up to her quickly risen fame and with a public, messy divorce. Dealing with all this on a hectic tour schedule, Perry found the time to record snippets of song ideas into her iPhone; even while in a state of mental turmoil, she was trying to find a way out of the darkness.  That thorny path ultimately led to the emotive burst of self-compassion that PRISM showcases, a refracted palette of bright pop (“Birthday”), groovy Eurodance (“Walking On Air”), and sweeping electro-ballads (“Unconditionally”). It’s as if the message of Teenage Dream’s “Firework” were splintered out into multiple musical recreations, given new life with a parade of Perry’s trusted collaborators and friends, like pop hitmakers Max Martin, Dr. Luke, and Bonnie McKee, enlivening much of PRISM’s crystal clarity. Lead single “Roar” is the ultimate feminist clapback, a jaunty, triumphant march that pulls from messages of the ’70s women’s liberation movement to deliver a powerful screed to anyone who dares prevent you from achieving happiness. On the opposite end, still bracingly self-assured but unashamedly lustful, is “Dark Horse” (featuring Juicy J), a trap song that excels in being both loud and coy, Perry’s two personas sharing the spotlight with a coquettish wink. With PRISM, Perry sought to take heartbreak in celebratory stride, but softer, sonorous tracks dot the album with glimpses into her lowest moments. Even on her saddest material, she continues to take comfort in relationships that fill her with piercing love. On “By the Grace of God,” she offers a resounding thanks to her sister for providing comfort. And “Double Rainbow,” co-written with friend and fellow pop singer Sia, is about the once-in-a-lifetime people you don’t want to let go of. For Perry, these human relationships were the backbone of her journey into happiness—PRISM is a reminder that it can be yours too.

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