Will Love’s music memo
Katy Perry’s upbeat, all-inspiring comeback album, her fifth to date, hit shelves during the height of an unpredictable pandemic. While some have criticized Perry for bad timing, Smile is exactly what we needed to hear right now. With the incessant second-by-second reporting of all the doom and gloom hitting you the minute the television powers on, Katy Perry provides an escape filled with power anthems and pop ballads. Unarguably Perry’s best album since 2010’s record-breaking Teenage Dream, Perry returns to the sound that made her a household name. From the Zedd-produced “Never Really Over” to the uplifting mid-tempo “Cry About It Later” to the Charlie Puth co-written “Harleys in Hawaii” this is the closest Katy Perry has come to recapturing the magic of Teenage Dream, the first album to have five songs hit #1 since Michael Jackson’s Bad. Inspired by Katy Perry’s bout with depression in recent years, the lyrics showcase a vulnerable Perry while the sounds remain upbeat. Overall, a near perfect formula.
The fifth EP released by out pop singer Troye Sivan, In A Dream is an experimental effort written and produced as a “concept EP” during the pandemic. COVID-19 hit while Sivan was still on tour for Bloom, which found him self-reflecting during his entire time under Australian lockdown. Descried as a “time capsule” for some of “the most intense weeks” of his life, Troye Sivan bares all on In A Dream. Infusing elements of house, indie rock, and pop, Sivan serves up a very distinctive breakup record, highlighted by the addicting “Take Yourself Home,” 80s-esque “Easy” and gay love song “Stud.”
After receiving rave reviews for her sophomore album, Future Nostalgia, Dua Lipa has teamed up with DJ The Blessed Madonna for the remix album, Club Future Nostalgia. An era clearly inspired by Madonna’s Confessions On A Dance Floor, Club Future Nostalgia is a party in and of itself featuring some of the biggest producers in house music (Masters at Work, Larry Heard) and Top 40 (Mark Ronson, Stuart Price). The fun does not stop there as guest appearances include everyone from Gwen Stefani to Missy Elliott and Madonna herself. The continuous dance album also includes Dua’s previously unreleased “Love is Religion” and “That Kind of Woman.” If there is any direction Dua Lipa should take her career down, it is definitely within the dance music genre.
Energy is the third studio album from British electronic duo Disclosure and may very well be their best yet. Backed up by an impressive array of guest stars, Energy features powerful contributions from some of the biggest names in music today including Kelis (“Watch Your Step”), Common (“Reverie”), Kehlani (“Birthday”) and Khalid (“Talk”). The two-disc effort features an infectious mix of house, dance and R&B, highlighted by strong African-influenced stylings. It has been five years since 2015’s Caracal and Disclosure proves the wait to be worth it with sensual lyrics focused on attraction and establishing connection. While Energy is an easy listen from start to finish, some of the album’s best include “Lavender,” “My High” and “Douha (Mali Mali).”
Spell My Name marks Toni Braxton’s tenth studio album and follow up to 2018’s Sex & Cigarettes, which went on to receive multiple GRAMMY® nominations and the #1 “Long As I Live.” One of the highest-selling R&B artists in history, selling 67 million records worldwide thus far, Braxton cited the making of Spell My Name as the most fun she has had in years. This is made evident on tracks like “Dance,” co-produced with longtime collaborator Antonio Dixon, and the title track about being with a younger man, “Spell My Name.” The album also features stellar collaborations with Missy Elliot (“Do It”) and H.E.R. (“Gotta Move On”). After listening through, there are certainly more GRAMMY® nominations in Toxi Braxton’s future.